The nine-spotted ladybug, Coccinella novemnotataWelcome to
The Lost Ladybug Project

Over the past twenty years several native ladybug species that were once very common have become extremely rare (see details on the nine spotted ladybug pictured left and the two spotted too). During this same time several species of ladybugs from other places have greatly increased both their numbers and range. Besides being incredibly cool and charismatic ladybugs are also essential predators in both farms and forests that keep us from being overrun with pests (like aphids and mealybugs). In many areas the native ladybugs are being replaced by exotic ones. This has happened very quickly and we don't know how this shift happened, what impact it will have (e.g. will the exotic species be able to control pests as well as our familiar native ones always have) and how we can prevent more native species from becoming so rare.


I spotted a ladybug!!

Check out the list of where ladybugs have been spotted and who spotted them - we hope to add your name soon!

Be a ladybug spotter in 2009! Over 700 identifiable ladybug images from over 40 species (see the data) were submitted for 2008 (including the three rarest species) and we hope to see 10 times that many in 2009


The Penhales found a nine spotted ladybug - and you can too!

Jilene (age 11) and Jonathan (age 10) Penhale found a nine spotted ladybug near their home in October 2006 (read more about this discovery). This is the first one seen in the eastern U.S. in 14 years. Their finding confirmed that the species is not extinct and gave experts a place to start some intensive hunting. There may be a rare ladybug in your back yard right now!

Ladybug blitz 07 nets over 800 ladybugs

Participants from as far as 50 miles away joined in the first annual ladybug blitz to collect ladybugs and learn about their diversity and importance to the local ecology and economy

You can help! - Find 'em, photograph 'em, and send 'em

Here is how the program will work:

1. Go out and collect some ladybugs (see tips and our Field Guide below)

2. When you find ladybugs take pictures of them all! (see tips below).

3. Send your digital images to along with the collection information

Why We Need You

To be able to help the nine spotted ladybug and other ladybug species scientists need to have detailed information on which species are still out there and how many individuals are around. Entomologists at Cornell can identify the different species but there are too few of us to sample in enough places to find the really rare ones. We need you to be our legs, hands and eyes. If you could look for ladybugs and send us pictures of them on Email we can start to gather the information we need. We are very interested in the rare species but any pictures will help us. This is the ultimate summer science project for kids and adults! You can learn, have fun and help save these important species.


How to Find Ladybugs


Where and when to look for ladybugs: The best time to look will be between May and October. Prime season will vary according to your local climate. The best places to look will be on or around lush plant growth (especially if there are aphids). If you have access and permission, agricultural fields can make excellent collecting sites. Crops that are known to harbor many ladybugs include forage fields like alfalfa or clover and grains like wheat and corn before it gets too tall. Be sure to get permission from the grower first and make sure that the field has not been recently sprayed with chemicals. Other types of plants like wild flowers, weeds and even trees and shrubs can be home to many ladybugs too.



How to collect ladybugs: The best collection method will depend on the habitat. For softer plants like grasses, weeds or flowers you will catch more if you use a sweep net. A sweep net is essentially a tough cloth bag on a metal ring attached to long handle. By sweeping your net back and forth through the plants you knock them off and they land in your net. You can either build your own net (see our directions for building an inexpensive, functional net or tips from the American Museum of Natural History - be sure to use strong wire and fabric) or you can buy sweep nets (Bioquip). If you do use a sweep net you will probably want to divide into two groups with one group "sweeping" and then dumping what they find into a bin or onto a sheet for the other group to catch and place in containers. For tough, thorny, or woody plants you can carefully grab the ladybugs or tap them into a jar. Alternatively you can lay a sheet below the bush or tree and "beat it" (not too hard!) with a stick or dowel and then collect the ladybugs as they fall onto the sheet.


How to Photograph Ladybugs!

How to Send Your Ladybug Image

We will have a new improved submission page up soon but for now the easiest to send us an image is to Email it to In the Email form you can tell us where and how you collected, how many people collected for how long, the time, date, weather, and habitat. If you don't have a digital camera you can send a print to: Lost Ladybug Project, Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. We will acknowledge every submission. We hope to harm very few ladybugs during this project so in most cases we will ask you to release the ladybugs after we identify them. If you have found a very rare species we may ask you to send the ladybug to us.

Please remember that this is not a ladybug photo contest. As long as an image is good enough for us to identify the ladybug species pictured it can be an important part of our data base. Don't be discouraged if the largest image you can get in focus seems to small to identify. As long as your ladybug image is in focus we can usually enlarge it enough to make an identification. Below are 3 examples of pictures (already enlarged) that we were able to identify:


More Information and Activities

Discover Life Ladybug Page We are collaborating with the Discover Life organization. Check out our webpage for an online guide for identifying ladybugs plus an impressive collection of ladybug images and information.

Insect Conservation Biology In addition to being the course website for Insect Conservation Biology at Cornell the site also contains fact sheets on many rare and endangered species and links to other sources on insect biodiversity and conservation.

National Science Foundation Proposal We have applied to the National Science Foundation for funds to expand our efforts in education and scientific discovery. Read our preproposal summary for more information on the scope of our project.

Cool Bug Stuff a place to get free bug information, insect lore, and cool bug stuff including bug catchers, bug houses, magnifying lenses, and ladybug books and habitats

Sweepnet Safari Some excellent material from the University of Minnesota on how to run a "sweepnet safari" as a school or group activity (see activity 3 - others look interesting too!).

Entomology projects The home page for the New York State entomology program has materials for several great entomology projects.

Xerces Society Interested in joining the effort to save insects and other invertebrates? Please contact (and join!) the Xerces Society.

Draw your own ladybug A high-quality black and white outline of a ladybug that you can color in to match your favorite ladybug.

Ladybug matching game Test your skills by matching five color ladybug images to their common names

Free online kid-friendly ladybug games:

Save the roses! This exciting and realistic game allows you to be a ladybug and save a rose plant by eating the aphids that are attacking it.

Ladybug Pacman This game is an ingenious variation on the old favorite "pacman" where you get to be a ladybug and try to consume the aphids you need to survive before other predators consume you!



Not a game - just a traffic counter

But they are nine-spotted ladybugs!

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