There’s something to be said for crowd sourcing. Researchers at Cornell University, concerned over reports that ladybugs – more specifically, Coccinella novemnotata (ninespotted ladybug, or C9) – are in decline, have recruited the public to help spot (pun intended) the small beneficial insects. They’re cute, yes, and they’re the stuff of children’s nature education, along with jars filled with lightning bugs. But as we all know, they have an appetite for wicked little insect pests that damage ornamentals as well as food crops. So they play a not-insignificant role in keeping our plants healthy.

In response to the beneficials’ reported scarcity, Cornell launched The Lost Ladybug Project to help track and locate the critters. There’s a whole lot of education going on – for adults as well as kids – but a feature of the project is to engage the public in tracking down ladybugs and documenting their discoveries. Participants’ photographs are posted on the site, with credit given to the photographer. Importantly, however, there’s a location and date of discovery.

Granted, many of the photos are old, but they do show a considerable range of sightings across the country. And the site shows an updated count: As of August 10, 2017, 38,261 ladybugs were “contributed” to the project.

Good PR for a good bug.