Good bugs winning war in conservatory

Eija Sokolowski, a St. Vincent School student, spent time on her March break at the Thunder Bay Botanical Conservatory learning about bugs. Here, she inspects a praying mantis hatching egg case that is being installed on branches by park worker Tyler Hrabok.

When it comes to the war between bugs at the Thunder Bay Botanical Conservatory, the good bugs are winning the battle against the bad ones.

Armies of “good” insects were released into the conservatory Friday afternoon as children and their families watched in wonder.

Among the good bugs, thousands of ladybugs, swirskii, lacewings, green crysoperia rufilabris, Lindrous lophanthae and praying mantis were set free to dine on destructive aphids, spider mites, mealy, white fly, soft soale, scale and thrips.

For years, the conservatory has chosen to use bugs instead of pesticides against destructive insects who attempt to feast on the exotic and rare plants that are featured at the centre.

Karen Law, the conservatory lead hand and curator, says they release insects up to four times a year, with spring being the first and most significant release.

“As it starts to get warmer, bad bugs start to multiply so we start bringing in good bugs to take care of them,” said Law. “By the mid-July, they should be doing their job and should all be working together.”

She added that although the destructive insects multiply just as fast as the goodÊbugs, they are eventually outnumbered and destroyed by the good bugs.

The praying mantis, which arrive in hatching chambers and egg cases, will continue to evolve into September, declaring victory on all destructive insects.

With cooler temperatures and lower (insect) numbers through the winter months, everything is under control, said Law.

Staff stay on top of thingsÊusing dish soap and water to clean infestations of destructive insects on plants, or they simply catch the bugs with their hands.

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