Living With Biological Control

Insects indoors? Many people dislike the concept. When Asian Lady Beetles first arrived, Entomologists received countless homeowner complaints and requests for information. With the passage of time, people have learned how to live with them. Complaints and questions have diminished. The negative experience of the public with Asian Lady Beetles makes the use of Lady Beetles in large indoor spaces such as shopping malls more challenging.

Outdoors, many plant pests such as aphids and whiteflies are kept in check by insect predators and parasitoids. When those plants are indoors, the predators and parasitoids may be excluded and the pests can thrive and build large populations that destroy the plants. Using pesticides on the plants may be problematic. Many pesticide sprays can only be applied when the public is not present. Customers must kept away until the reentry interval has passed. Pesticide use can interfere with business and generate its share of customer complaints. Biological control, the release of predators and parasitoids to control the pests is an alternative, but must gain public acceptance.

Release of Lady Beetles is unlikely to escape notice and can potentially lead to customer complaints. Customers need to be educated about the program. One way to educate is to celebrate. The Mall of America, a large retail structure in Minneapolis, MN released 72,000 Lady Beetles for biological control purposes on Earth Day, 2013. School children, a good conduit for educating parents, were invited to help celebrate the release. The success of indoor biological control efforts depends in part on acceptance, understanding and support of the general public.

Lady Beetles for mass release

Lady Beetles for mass release

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Education, Environment, Pest Management. Bookmark the permalink.

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