UPDATE: The releasing of beneficial insects at the Centennial Botanical Conservatory has been rescheduled due to a shipping delay, to Friday, March 17 at 5 pm.
In keeping with their practice of avoiding chemical pesticides, staff at Thunder Bay's Centennial Botanical Conservatory are turning to a natural way to control insect pests.
Ladybugs. Nine thousand of them.
And a praying mantis.
Conservatory staff will release a huge batch of hunter inspects that will travel through the facility and is greenhouses, consuming "victim" insect pests in egg, larval and adult form.
"Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home!" the conservatory says in a public notice, borrowing from an old English nursery rhyme.
Ladybugs are voracious predators of aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects. Lindorus (a black lady beetle) will also be released, along with common lacewing, "and everyone's favourite, the praying mantis.
Mantises arrive at the conservatory still in egg cases; a hatching chamber will be installed so that children can witness the eggs hatching as longer, warmer days approach.
The conservatory does not use chemical pesticides; staff manually remove insect pests by washing leaves, and employ friendly insects for pest control.
Staff will release the insects inside the conservatory at 5 p.m. on Wednessday. The public is invited to come and watch.