Thursday, October 25, 2007

New York seeks help of 720,000 ladybugs to kill pests

Ladybugs, 720,000 of them, have been released in the middle of New York City to help protect one of the city's biggest apartment complexes from pests. In the next days and weeks, they will crawl into plants, flowers and shrubs in the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village complex in search of insects whose smell attracts them - soft-bodied, leaf-sucking aphids and mites.

Buying the bugs - at $16.50 (euro11.5) for 2,000 - means the complex's owner, Tishman Speyer, can avoid using chemical insecticides.

``In most cases, we reach for a can of pesticide - and we kill not only the 'bad guys,' but the 'good guys,''' said Eric Vinje, owner of Planet Natural, which supplied the pest-killers.

``All we're doing here is putting more of the 'good guys' to tip the scale, to get some kind of pest population control.''

He said a ladybug can eat up to 50 pests a day, plus insect eggs.