The joy of having a little red ladybug land on your arm may now be a thing of the past.
Native species of the insect have become so rare that scientists across the country worry it will become extinct. That's where the Lost Ladybug Project steps in.
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Begun by Cornell University entomologist John Losey twelve years ago, the Lost Ladybug Project hopes to document the backyard bug in different locations to determine why their populations are declining.
The project has enlisted volunteers all over the country, and nature enthusiasts in the Bay Area are eager to participate. Seven-year-old Maddox Rochman-Romdalvik, dubbed a "citizen scientist" by researchers, searches for ladybugs in his backyard on a regular basis. “We go out and wherever we are, we’re looking for ladybugs,” his mother, Sue Rochman, told CBS News.
Over the past 20 years, several species of native ladybugs, once very common across the United States, have become extremely rare.
Citizen scientists upload pictures of ladybugs to a collective database of discovery locations, and the project now boasts over 14,939 sightings and many rare variations of the bug.
"People just love ladybugs," Losey told the Los Angeles Times. "It's a very sort of charismatic, approachable insect."
Frequent sightings of Harmonia axyridis, an Asian ladybug first introduced to the United States in the 1980s as pest-control, have scientists worried that invasive species are pushing out the natives.
"They used to be just everywhere, and now they're not," Cornell University entomologist Leslie Allee said to the Los Angeles Times. "We want to try to understand why, and if we can bring those species back."
Through the help of their citizen scientists, entymologists hope to decipher what impact diaspora will have on ladybug diversity and important role ladybugs play in keeping pest populations low.
Watch the CBS News video below, and then go out and search for some ladybugs yourself:
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