C. novemnotata in Decline

As recently as 35 years ago Coccinella novemnotata (the ninespotted ladybug or C9) was one of the most commonly found lady beetles in agricultural fields across North America.  It was a species highly valued for its role in suppressing pest insects.  The figure to the right above is the range map for Coccinella novemnotata copied from  the most recent comprehensive review of Coccinellidae (ladybugs) to date, written by Robert F. Gordon and published in 1985.  But, by 1990, C9 was suddenly very difficult to find.    It didn't turn up in surveys done in the locations where it used to be and on several occasions people went out specifically looking for C9 and found none.

The difficulty of finding C9 - along with Coccinella transversoguttata and Adalia bipunctata  [two more native lady beetles that have recently precipitously declined]  is what inspired the creation of the Lost Ladybug Project.  With the help of citizen scientists, the LLP has located populations of C9 where we would not have known to look.  They are still extremely rare.  The nearly 300 found by the LLP so far is largely due to search teams targeting locations where C9 has been seen.

C. novemnotata range map from Gordon (1985)

Scaled overlay of LLP C9 sightings within former range

The figure to the right below shows C9's former range shaded with LLP sightings in black (spots). This type of reduction in range is an important criteria for evaluating conservation status. Coccinella novemnotata was recently declared "endangered" by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) in Canada.  In the U.S. it is also listed among the 2015 "New York State Species of Greatest Conservation Need."

New York State residents can participate in the New York State Insect Restoration Project by purchasing ninespotted larvae here !

More references:

Coccinella novemnotata - on the Animal Diversity Web

Coccinella novemnotata, Nine Spotted Lady Beetle - from the Cornell University Insect Conservation Biology webpage

After 29 years, nine-spotted ladybugs found on Long Island - from the Cornell Chronicle 2011