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Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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John Losey

Associate Professor of Entomology at Cornell University


Over the past twenty years several native species of coccinellids (aka ladybugs) that were once very common have become extremely rare.  During this same time several ladybug species from other places have greatly increased both their numbers and range. Besides being incredibly cool and charismatic ladybugs are also essential predators in both farms and forests that keep us from being overrun with pests (like aphids and mealybugs). In many areas the native ladybugs are being replaced by exotic ones. This has happened very quickly

and we don't know how this shift happened, what impact it will have (e.g., will the exotic species be able to control pests as well as our familiar native ones always have?) and how we can prevent more native species from becoming so rare.

My research in insect conservation biology focuses on the assessment of the current status of both native and exotic lady beetles and the determination of the impact of recent trends in the composition of lady beetle species (e.g. a higher proportion of exotic species and individuals) on the ability of this group to suppress pest populations. To be able to help these and other ladybug species scientists need to have detailed information on which species are still out there and how many individuals are around. Entomologists at Cornell can identify the different species but there are too few of us to sample in enough places to find the really rare ones.  We are developing a citizen science program to teach the public about the importance of biodiversity and conservation and to recruit them in our search for rare ladybugs. For more information see our Lost Ladybugs website.


Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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