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FALL 2011
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CALS Notes

Lost Ladybug ... Found!

By Susan S. Lang ’ 72

Credit: Peter Priolo

One of the first C9 found in New York.

The nine-spotted ladybug, New York’s official state insect, was feared to be extinct in this state until citizen scientists rallied to Cornell’s call to help look for it. Several nine-spotted ladybugs were spotted by citizen-scientists on Long Island this summer.

“The nine-spotted ladybug was once one of the most common ladybugs in the United States, and it was so revered in New York for its role in suppressing pests that it was named the official state insect in 1989,” says John Losey, associate professor of entomology and director of the Lost Ladybug Project.

But a decade or so later, the little lady seemed extinct throughout the eastern U.S. because extensive surveys by scientists failed to find any live specimens. The New York State Assembly was so sure the nine-spotted ladybug was absent that it passed a bill to replace the ladybug as state insect in 2006. That bill never went to the Senate and never became law. Now those fears can be put to rest: The first nine-spotted ladybug—Coccinella novemnotata—was discovered by a volunteer July 30 at the Quail Hill Organic Farm in Amagansett on Long Island’s South Fork (Suffolk County). Since then, volunteers and project staff have found 20 more nine-spotted ladybugs at Quail Hill.