Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday Explorers Club - Meet a Bug

Ladybugs found in and around Ithaca, Cornell collections
A sure sign of spring at our house is the ladybugs that gather in sunny windows or fly about the kitchen banging into the ceiling light. Over winter, ladybugs found cozy places to hide beneath bark, inside cracks, under house siding - one year an entire clan claimed the inside the curl of a rag rug I'd left hanging on the clothesline.

Ladybugs are beneficial; they eat aphids, mealybugs, and other pests, and brighten up the day. But they have their drawbacks: they have a bitter odor (which you will discover if one lands in your cocoa) and they bite (but tiny bites, and not too often).

We have a lot of ladybugs here in New York state - around 90 species. But over the past 20 years, some of our native species have become harder to find. One of these is the nine-spotted ladybug, once so common that in 1989 the NY State legislature adopted it as the official sate insect. But by 1993 scientists couldn't find a singe nine-spotted lady anywhere in the northeast.

While native populations declined, introduced species had no trouble establishing themselves. The seven-spotted ladybug was imported from Europe to help fight pests in farmer's fields. A more recent immigrant is the multi-colored Asian ladybug - the one you are more likely to find in clusters inside your home. These imports range in color from pink to orange and sport anywhere from 0 - 18 spots on their hard outer wings.

If you do find a bunch of ladybugs in your house, help them get back outside. If you have a lot, put a clean bag in your vacuum and suck them up - then release them outside.

And if you love ladybugs, get involved in the Lost Ladybug Project.  It's a fun way to learn more about this bug-of-the-month and help scientists learn more about ladybug populations.

No comments:

Post a Comment