Sydney NSW, Australia
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Westminster releases 100,000 insects ... on purpose


On Thursday afternoon, Westminster welcomed guests at city hall. Only on this day, there were 100,000 of them and they were all insects.

The city, the Westminster Tree Commission, and Bartlett Tree Experts partnered for a beneficial insect release of ladybugs, green lacewings and predatory mites onto the foliage around the city hall.

The hemlocks have been struggling with scale, said Paul Mullins, an arborist representative from Bartlett Tree Experts.

Scale are insects that build up on the needles of the tree, giving them a waxy white appearance and and blocking them from doing their job. If the condition persists, the tree can die.

So it was ladybugs and green lacewings to the rescue. The tiny lacewings come packaged in a honeycomb of cardboard. Mullins took the lead placing them into a bush, carefully, because they can be known to bite humans.

The ladybugs came in a box, which immediately released their unique smell when Mullins and Westminster City Arborist Eric Schlitzer opened it. They set to work plunging their hands into the box of bugs and pulling out sections of filler to place on the bushes and toss into the trees.

“They come out hungry and mad,” Mullins said. Luckily, they do not bite humans, but they will go after the scale on the hemlocks and the aphids on the crepe myrtle.

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