Lady Beetles are adored by many and who can blame them – their bright patterns captivate the eyes and their reputation as pest predators make them a friend to farmers and gardeners. Many of us are familiar with the nonnative Asian Lady Beetle, but did you know that 34 native lady beetle species have been historically documented in Vermont? Unfortunately, 14 of these species have not been seen since the 1970's. It's a mystery we're eager to solve!

At the Vermont Atlas of Life, we have committed ourselves to mapping and monitoring Vermont's biodiversity. As a part of this effort, we want to uncover the truth about these 14 lost lady beetle species. Are they completely gone? It's hard to know for sure. Scientists thought that both the Two-spotted and Nine-spotted lady beetles were extinct in New York until citizen scientists directed by the Cornell Lost Ladybug Project rediscovered them. Here at VAL, we're on a quest for similar information. We're declaring 2020 the Year of the Lady Beetle and channeling our biodiversity monitoring powers towards discovering whether these two (and other) missing species are truly gone or whether their numbers are so low that they've escaped previous surveys.

Hieroglyphic Lady Beetle © Charlie Hohn

Mysterious disappearances

Here at VAL, we’re always eager to unravel the mysteries of a new taxon. Lady Beetles weren’t on our radar until we unearthed a 43 year old document – Lady Beetles: A Checklist of the Coccinellidae of Vermont. Within its pages, the authors had noted the first and last date each Lady Beetle species was collected in Vermont and the total number of specimens known. This data showed that native species previously considered common across the state were now rare or even missing. Alarm bells started going off and we knew that this puzzle needed answers.

We hit bedrock pretty fast when we began digging into the available information on Lady Beetles in Vermont. However, we were not willing to let this lack of data deter us.

Read more about our approach and what we discovered »