Lady bugs to the rescue

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Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than...oops. Let’s start again— 720,000 ladybugs winged their way from Bozeman, Mont., to New York City, where they took up residence on the East Side of Manhattan. Nasty pests had invaded one of the city’s largest apartment complexes and were gobbling up the landscaping, according to the Associated Press. The ladybugs were on a rescue mission.

Instead of dousing the 80-acre site with gallons of chemical pesticides, the apartment managers placed a call to Planet Natural and help was soon on its way. The Montana firm sells millions of ladybugs collected by workers in Oregon, California and, Nevada. While normally a gentle creature, the ladybug can turn into a ravenous beast when a good smelling insect wanders by. They are partial to soft-bodied, leaf-sucking aphids and mites such as those munching their way through the bushes and shrubs around the high-rises.

Planet Natural keeps its ladybugs refrigerated at 35 degrees, which triggers a dormant state. When removed from the refrigeration and packed for shipping, they awaken slowly en route to their destination. By the time they are released, the ladybugs are hungry for a hearty meal.

This natural form of pest control is increasingly common as some people are highly sensitive to pesticides, and others worry about the long-term effects of chemical exposure. Pesticides do not discriminate. They deal death to all insects not just the troublesome ones. In contrast, ladybugs offer a safe and sensible alternative. They target the insects that are destructive and return balance to the natural system without harmful side effects.

Typically, one ladybug can patrol a 19-inch-square area, eating up to 50 pests and insect eggs in a single day. Planet Natural charges $17.50 for 2,000 ladybugs and provides free U.S. shipping. One often overlooked perk of ladybug pest control is long-term cost savings. Ladybugs are avid little procreators and will cheerfully and freely replenish themselves.

Linda is responsible for the PERC web sites, media relations, the national journalism conference, and the media fellows program. She is author of Forest Fires, part of a series of  environmental education books for high school students. She also wrote and produced Square One, a newsletter that introduced grassroots environmentalists to market...
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