Spring Break is for the Bugs

A big crowd came to see the bugs released

By Eden Rennie Kinniburgh

Praying mantises, ladybugs and lacewings. I saw them all last week and you can too!

On Friday, March 17 there was a Beneficial Insect Release at the Botanical Conservatory. Staff release these bugs a few times a year, but this was the first time they invited the public. When I showed up, the line-up of people was out the doors!

Bad bugs eat the plants in the conservatory, and the staff doesn’t use any chemicals or pesticides to get rid of them. But the beneficial insects they released – the good bugs – eat the bad bugs, and lots of them.

For example, Mike Dixon, the city’s Forestry, Horticulture and Cemeteries

Mike Dixon explains how the Praying Mantis eggs hatch

Supervisor, was releasing the praying mantises. They were still eggs and will not hatch for another week. In each egg sac, there are about 400 eggs, and he put nine of these sacs into the trees. When the praying mantises hatch, they will eat anything, even their own brothers and sisters and ladybugs if they can catch one.

Karen Nadeau, the Lead Hand Curator at the conservatory, was releasing black ladybugs. She explained that the ladybugs were still dormant at the release and that’s why they weren’t flying around at the time. She also said that all the good bugs they released came from a store in southern Ontario, and you can order them online for your own garden to help get rid of bad bugs.

Later, we saw Karen releasing 5,000 tiny lacewing eggs. Lacewings are insects with lacy, delicate looking wings. By now, the eggs will have become pupae and Karen said they are the most ferocious eaters of all the good bugs they released.

Eden and Mike check out the Praying Mantis hatching chamber

I asked if they were ever going to have another insect release with the public again, and Mike said if they do, it would have to be more organized so everyone can see all the different types of bugs.

By now, many of the eggs have probably hatched and the ladybugs will be flying around, and you can go to the conservatory to look for them!