Dr. Steve Murphree, professor of biology, was a “Scientist on the Spot” on March 22 at the kickoff event for the Adventure Science Center’s Lost Ladybug Project. Murphree was available to answer questions about The Lost Ladybug Project, and he also gave a 30-minute presentation about Middle Tennessee lady beetles.
This event was part of the national Lost Ladybug Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, which is studying the decline of some native lady beetle species. Across North America ladybug species composition is changing. Over the past 20 years, native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare. During this same time ladybugs from other parts of the world have greatly increased both their numbers and range. This is happening very quickly, and scientists don’t know how, or why, or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity or the role that ladybugs play in keeping plant-feeding insect populations low. Murphree will continue as the local entomology consultant until this year’s project ends in early October.