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In search of the 'lost ladybug'

By Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times

April 23, 2012, 6:31 p.m.
NEW YORK Leah Tyrrell wants to make something clear: She does not wear ladybug sweatshirts. She does not carry her belongings in ladybug bags, shelter from the rain beneath a ladybug-shaped umbrella, or take notes with pens decorated with little ladybugs.

True, someone did give her earrings in the shape of ladybugs, and another admirer gave her a rock painted like a ladybug. A woman once saw her in the supermarket and said loudly, "Oh! The ladybug lady!"

For the most part, though, the Buffalo-based student and mother of two says she is no different from thousands of other people across North America and Mexico who have become absorbed in an effort called the Lost Ladybug Project, which Cornell University entomologist John Losey started 12 years ago to document the insects and determine why some species are declining.

In the beginning, ladybug collectors worked with sticky cards trapping the bugs onto gluey bits of paper or cardboard and sending them to Cornell. It was good for the science but not for the ladybugs.

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