Vermont Lady Beetle BioBlitz
Last week over 60 volunteers searched from backyards to mountaintops as part of the weeklong Vermont Lady Beetle BioBlitz to help find and photograph as many of these charming beetles as possible. The event kicked off the summer survey season for the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas, a project that aims to find and map the distribution of more than 35 species, including 12 native species that have not been seen for decades. During the one-week event, volunteers visited all 14 of Vermont’s counties and reported 138 lady beetle observations representing a dozen different species.
“This was a great way to kick off the lady beetle season,” said Julia Pupko, VCE ECO AmeriCorps member and Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas Project Coordinator. “Whether it was the drought or extremely hot weather at the beginning of the season, I have been having trouble finding beetles this year. Locating over 12 species in one week was awesome!”
Nearly a third of the species reported were introduced, non-native lady beetles, including a species many of us are familiar with when they invade buildings each fall, the Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis). Nearly 50% of the observations reported were Asian Lady Beetles, which are likely more prevalent near homes. The decline of native lady beetles may be linked to the introduction of these non-native species.
Volunteers documented 9 native species during the event. The bright red colored Spotted Lady Beetle and the shiny Ursine Spurleg Lady Beetle were the most observed species. The relatively uncommon Bigeminate Sigil Lady Beetle (Hyperaspis bigeminata) was photographed on the ridgelines of Mt. Mansfield and Camel’s Hump, adding 3 more observations to the mere 5 observations of this species previously reported on iNaturalist in Vermont.
“A big thank you to all the participants of the Vermont Lady Beetle BioBlitz,” said Pupko. “We hope many of you will continue to record lady beetles that you find this summer and help us with the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas.”
You can find out more about the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas at the Vermont Atlas of Life website – https://val.vtecostudies.org/projects/lady-beetle-atlas/