Bugs that is, ladybugs. And what a message that should send. The management of the most well known mall in the nation has released more than seventy thousand ladybugs inside the mall in order to control pests on the tropical plants living there. Read: instead of using a pesticide. Here’s a link to the story: http://www.ibtimes.com/72000-ladybugs-released-inside-mall-america-earth-day-place-pesticides-photo-1212811.
As EVERY gardener knows, ladybugs are a beneficial insect because they are predators of many of the destructive pests that plague our flower gardens and vegetable patches. They help.
The ladies will reproduce and return in following years after being released, a free reapplication, but the down side is that they can – and do – fly away to other places besides the one’s that we released them to patrol. I’ve been giving them away anonymously to the neighbors for years. What the Mall of America people have done is to release them into the biggest terrarium in the world: brilliant.
I wish that I could keep the little hunters happy and local in that way, but I intend to continue to buy and release them each year nonetheless. I get them from the local nursery. I wish that more large enterprises would start to adopt environmentally responsible pest control practices such as the use of ladybugs, preying mantis, beneficial nematodes, manual removal or organics. The petrochemical stuff is very powerful and not really necessary most of the time.
I don’t forgo the use of stronger pest control products altogether, but I seldom use them and I always follow the label directions carefully because I don’t want to harm the friendly insects that inhabit the garden. If only everyone would be careful we would have much less of a problem with pesticide runoff. Unfortunately, misuse of pesticides and herbicides by incorrect application or dilution is a big problem at the consumer level.
One example of misuse is the application of a pest control product at a non-recommended time: such as when bees or other ‘good’ insects are active. Also, concentrated garden products are great but dilution can be confusing to people. Many, myself included, have difficulty following the directions on some hose-end sprayers. I would suggest that if you are not sure of the proper use of the sprayer, look for help at the manufacturers web page, or just spring for one that is simpler to use. Your garden center will have people to help with that.
Another problematic area for consumers is application rate, particularly for granular products. If a product is labeled for 5,000 square feet, then that’s the area it will be effective for. This applies to organics as well. You don’t necessarily get better results by using more of a product, and sometimes you can damage your lawn by doing so.
One upshot of all of this is that consumer education about the dangers of pesticides and herbicides is important but limited in effectiveness. There are compelling reasons for legislative action, particularly on Long Island where the aquifer is under threat. People will respond to tax incentives, rebates, public education campaigns and the like when it comes to garden products, as long as the alternative product is effective and easy to use.