Vermont Wildlife Experts Hope To Inventory Local Ladybugs

HARTFORD, Vt. (AP) — Vermont wildlife experts are hoping to create an inventory of local ladybugs, more accurately called lady beetles, to help find and restore local species populations.

A dozen native species have disappeared in the state over the past several decades, the Burlington Free Press reported. Biologists have created a crowd-sources search party to take place for a week. The effort started Saturday and runs through June 12.

Participants in the Lady Beetle BioBlitz need a camera-equipped and network-connected smart phone, according to wildlife experts at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies in Hartford. They are asked to photograph from different angles any and all lady beetles in backyards, gardens, fields and forests and load the images into the free iNaturalist app, the newspaper reported.

More diversity of lady beetle species provides a better defense against insects that threaten human crops, according to Kent McFarland, a conservation biologist at the center.

The proliferation non-native lady beetles of which there are at least seven species might play a role in the decline of Vermont populations, Julia Pupko, the center’s community science outreach naturalist, wrote in a blog post.

Vermont’s change in land use, newly emerging pathogens and pesticide use might also have contributed, she added, according to the newspaper.