Friday, August 12, 2011

Lost Ladybug Project

Do your kids enjoy science? Would they be interested in helping out the Entomologists at Cornell? This is your opportunity to contribute to a real scientific study and teach your children the impact that all people have. In the past 20 years the number of native species ladybugs has been declining rapidly and the non-native species are becoming more abundant. The rare species are the two spotted and the nine spotted ladybugs. The shift has occurred as people have imported ladybugs for bio control. There was such demand for ladybugs that they have now shifted in nature and the Asian species are more common that the natives. The researchers at Cornell are working hard to figure out the drastic change and what must be done to get the ladybug system back into balance. Please help out by going to their website. The Lost Ladybug Project is an important bit of research being done shoulder to shoulder with children, parents, and scientists.

Ladybug History

Some believe that ladybugs were given their name in Europe after the red robes of the Virgin Mary ("Our Lady") or because farmers believed they were sent to them by "Our Lady" to save the farms from the "ravages of pests". They were originally called "The Beetles of Our Lady" and that was eventually shortened to "Lady Beetles", which they are commonly called now.

Ladybugs are predators and a gardener's best friend. They feast on primarily aphids. Even in the larval stage they will consume aphids and other soft body insects such as mites and white flies. All of the insects consumed by ladybugs are considered pests in gardens. If you find ladybugs in your garden you can rest assured that they are eating these pests and you will not have to resort to chemical use.

Ladybugs hibernate in the winter and they prefer to hibernate in groups. They will frequently get under the siding of a home and sleep away the winter. During hibernation they will consume their own body fat to survive. Have you ever found a ladybug in your home? Often times they will be hibernating the warmth inside your home will awaken them, They then travel towards the heat and right into your home. Sadly many of the ladybugs that wake up mid-winter and go into our homes will not survive. Ladybugs need humidity to survive and to stay hydrated. Most homes are very dry in the winter causing the ladybugs to dehydrate.

When ladybugs are frightened they will leave a small yellow substance in their wake. This is not a waste matter, instead it is their blood. When they are frightened they will pull in their legs and pretend to be dead. To keep up the look of death they will release a bit of blood  from their legs by way of "reflex bleeding". Many of their predators find it to be foul smelling and will not consume them.

The Lost Ladybug Project is a great way to get involved in science and the website is a wealth of information. There is a teaching section with lesson plans, identification tools, and so much more. Get involved in Science!

1 comment:

  1. I am about to do a giant ladybug mosaic with some children here in London - all kids love them don't they?