Back to top

John Losey

John Losey


265 Old Insectary
(607) 255-7376

My research, teaching and outreach interests all revolve around the management of insect populations. My program has two complementary foci the management of pest insect populations and the management of endangered or declining insect populations. I am very interested in the processes that make some insect species so numerous that they become pests while others decline so quickly that they become rare or even extinct. My goal is to educate my peers, my students, and the general public on the importance of insect biodiversity and conservation.

Research Focus

My program has two complementary foci the management of pest insect populations and the management of endangered or declining insect populations. My program in pest management focuses on the ecological impacts of transgenic crops. Ecological impacts can include both impacts on the target pest population (eg resistance) and impacts on nontarget organisms (eg monarchs - including via the decline of their milkweed host plants - and beneficial beetles). My research focuses on evaluating these problems and identifying potential solutions often in collaboration with weed ecologists who examine the impact of herbicide tolerant crops. One group of beneficial beetles that may be impacted by Btt corn is the coccinellidae or lady beetles. This group includes many predators that are vital for the suppression of pest populations. Unfortunately, many of the most common lady beetles native to the United States are in precipitous decline. My research in insect conservation biology focuses on the assessment of the current status of both native and exotic lady beetles and the determination of the impact of recent trends in the composition of lady beetle species (e.g. a higher proportion of exotic species and individuals) on the ability of this group to suppress pest populations. Working together with collaborators here at Cornell, regionally with a multi-state biological control group, nationally through the Lost Ladybug Project, and internationally through the IUCN Ladybird Specialist Group, I am seeking to understand the causes of butterfly and beetle decline and to conserve both groups of isnects.

Outreach and Extension Focus

In response to our own findings on the impact of agricultural practices on beneficial insects, their overall decline, and the lack of public appreciation of the importance of these we expanded our Lost Ladybug Project in 2008. In May 2008 the Lost Ladybug Project was awarded almost two million dollars from the National Science Foundation to expand this program in New York and then extend it to a national level. Our goals are to educate youth regarding the importance of biodiversity and conservation and to recruit them to participate in our "citizen science" program to determine the current status of native and exotic ladybugs in the US. Participants can make use of our educational materials and activities and then collect ladybugs in a defined area, take pictures of the ladybugs with digital cameras, and upload the pictures using a web-based interface for species identification and inclusion in a nationwide database. As “citizen scientists”, children and adults will be part of a real scientific experiment and contribute valuable information on these important beneficial insects. We have educated over 25,000 visitors to our webpage so far. In addition to numerous live presentations the project was featured on National Public Radio and an AP article that was carried in hundreds of newspapers around the country. We have so far received over 800 identifiable ladybug images including multiple images of the three rarest native species. This represents more records of those rare species then has been reported in refereed journals for over 20 years. In addition I organized the second annual Ladybug Blitz. Participants from as far as 50 miles away joined in the second annual ladybug blitz to collect ladybugs and learn about their diversity and importance to the local ecology can economy.

Teaching Focus

My teaching efforts focus on integrated pest management (IPM) and insect conservation biology. I see these two areas as logical complements to one another. Many of the same ecological principles and models are utilized in conservation biology and IPM - the main difference being the goals of the two endeavors. The IPM courses I teach deal primarily with the suppression of insect pest populations while the insect conservation biology course focuses on the preservation and facilitation of rare or endangered populations.

Awards and Honors

  • Distinguished Achievement in Extension Award (2015) Entomological Society of America: Eastern Branch

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

Presentations and Activities

  • Global decline in ladybird beetle diversity: Causes, consequences, and opportunities for conservation. cE3C Annual Meeting - Frontiers in E3. June 2017. Center for Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Changes. Ponta Delgada, Azores.