The Lost Ladybug Project (LLP) is a wonderful citizen science project for all age groups and it is especially appealing to parents and teachers of children in grades PreK-6. Why? Unlike more complex citizen science projects, this one is designed so that even young children can participate in every aspect of the scientific research. Developed in 2000 by entomologists at Cornell University, participants in the project help locate and identify North American ladybug species that were once common but have become rare over the past 20 years or so. The nine-spotted ladybug is one example. What is happening to these native ladybugs? The entomologists theorize that competition from invasive species, hybridization with non-native ladybugs, or environmental factors such as climate change may be affecting the populations. Citizen scientists are helping Cornell find answers, so that the entomologists can take measures to increase the native ladybug populations.
Getting involved in the project is easy. Participants look for ladybugs using the field guides and other identification tools provided on the Lost Ladybug website. Early summer is the best time, but it depends on your location. Participants can either locate the ladybugs on plants, use sweep nets to collect from a grassy area, or attract the insects to sheets. Once collected, the ladybugs are “chilled” for a few minutes to slow their movement. This part of the process makes observation and identification much easier for young children. Now comes the best part. The citizen “researcher” takes digital photographs of the ladybugs and then uploads the images to the LLP website, complete with field collection information such as date, time, location and habitat. That’s about it for the basic contribution to the project, but there are plenty of inquiry-based activities listed on the website for more in-depth involvement.
As of this month, participants of the Lost Ladybug Project have contributed 13,748 ladybugs to the project. The contribution of citizen scientists to ladybug research is evident; the LLP now holds one of the largest and most geographically diverse databases of ladybug information in the world.
Thanks for sharing, Tamra. I presented at the NAA conference last year and used this project to demonstrate how Science, Technology, Art, and Math can be integrated into formal and informal education programs using the Lost Ladybug Project. The activities are terrific. I encourage others to check it out!!
I loved this idea and then it was even better when I saw you had posted it! Good to see you here. I would love to talk soon about my ideas for preschool 2012/2013. I am in the process of making it an 'Outdoor Preschool'- all 3 hours outside! Your class was my inspiration! Thanks!
Love this! Thanks for sharing. Going to check it out.