In 2008, Ottó Merkl found the first Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) in Western Hungary . This finding surged the establishment of the Hungarian Harlequin Ladybird Project (HHLbP), which aimed to monitor the spread of this invasive species with the help of citizen scientists. Thus, with the help of a few volunteers, we set up the website of the Project in 2009 and tried to disseminate information on the ecological and agricultural issues with the Harlequin Ladybirds countrywide. This was one of the first citizen science projects in Hungary and I was very excited to see how much data we gather within a very short period of time. As an added benefit, however, we also started collecting data on the distribution of native species.

Using the first year’s data, we reported an extremely rapid spread of the species in Hungary as well as its first occurrence in Ukraine and Romania .

Although, due to the lack of funding, the HHLbP has been terminated, the data collated during the first three years were used in several MSc and BSc theses and the beneficial effects of a citizen science project on environmental education are undeniable. Currently, an other project collects data (among other invertebrates) on Hungarian coccinellids.


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