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Thought-To-Be Extinct Ladybug Returns To New York State, Stunning Scientists

9-Spotted Version Pops Up On L.I.: Expert: Hey, We're Doing Something Right
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9-spotted ladybug

When the 9-spotted ladybug showed up recently on a Long Island farm scientists went crazy. It turns out they had good reason. (Photo: CBS 2)

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AMAGANSETT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A surprising discovery in the Hamptons has scientists “buggin’ out.”

And as CBS 2′s Mark Morgan explains, what was thought to be long gone is back.

Back in late July, naturalist Pete Priolo made a startling discovery.

“I came over and one was on the petal of a leaf like right around here towards the top and I said, ‘That one looks like it could be one of the native species,’” Priolo said.

It was a 9-spotted ladybug, which was believed to be extinct in New York. It had not been seen in the state in 29 years. The finding at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett caused a flurry of activity.

Cornell University had scientists and volunteers combing the farm, and they found more of the rare insects on nearby vegetables, which they protect by eating aphids.

“We’re seeing them all the time because we didn’t realize they were the 9-spotted ladybugs, so they’re finding them all the time now and it’s great,” Peconic Land Trust Outreach manager Kathy Kennedy said.

“At first I was slightly skeptical until I looked at the images and I have to say I was pretty excited. I think the New York area did a really good effort to try to bring back native plants and make these green spaces available,” insect expert Christine Johnson said.

The 9-spotted ladybug was thought to have been displaced by the 7-spotted ladybug, which was introduced from Europe to also control aphids.

Experts were so sure that the 9-spotted ladybug was extinct, that the State Assembly passed a bill in 2006 replacing it as the state insect. That bill never went to the Senate and never became law.

Now, no replacement is needed, because the 9-spotted lady bug is alive and well.

Experts say the 9-spotted lady bugs usually settle in dry climates, out West, so for them to re-emerge on Long Island is especially surprising.

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