ITHACA, N.Y., Jan. 28 (UPI) — Scientists at Cornell University in New York are trying to figure out why some species of ladybug are vanishing and what can be done to save them.
Leslie Allee, one of the leaders of the Lost Ladybug Project, said the insects, cute as they look, have an important role as predators that eat other insects, The Ithaca Journal reported.
“If we didn’t have ladybugs we would need to use much higher levels of pesticides,” Allee said. “So not only are they saving us money and saving crops, but they are also contributing to human health by reducing the level of pesticides that are needed.”
The project depends heavily on volunteers who search for ladybugs and send in photographs and specimens. Since the project was started in 2000, 13,370 photos have come in from the United States and Canada.
Three species of ladybug have become rare in New York, Allee said. One, the nine-spotted ladybug, was actually thought to be extinct in the state until a volunteer saw one on a sunflower on an organic farm in Amagansett on the east end of Long Island.