Saskatchewan

Aphids beware: 150,000 ladybugs released in Regina's Victoria Park

Regina is now home to more ladybugs than people.

150,000 more to be released around the city

Ray Morgan, Regina's parks director, distributes ladybugs to people in Victoria Park. One hundred and fifty thousand were released in the park on July 13. (CBC)

Regina is now home to more ladybugs than people.

Three hundred thousand of the red and black, polka-dotted insects are being released around the Regina as part of what the city says is an environmentally friendly approach to controlling aphids.

Ladybugs are a natural predator of tiny green aphids, which the city's parks director Ray Morgan says are causing big issues for Regina's trees.

"They suck the juice out of the trees, they cause problems with the foliage, and you know what? They cause stress on the trees."

An adult ladybug can devour up to 50 aphids per day, Morgan says.

Regina's Victoria Park was ground zero for the project, where 150,000 ladybugs were released Thursday morning.

Public pitches in

A large crowd gathered in the park for the release, where children were encouraged to help the city distribute the bugs. Shrieks and cheers could be heard as Morgan doled out batches of bugs to eager little hands.

A young girl helps guide ladybugs from a cup onto a tree in Regina's Victoria Park. (Adnan Mohamad/SRC)

Brenda Baumgartner and her six-year-old daughter, Addie, were among the throng.

Addie, who was decked-out in a ladybug hat complete with spring-mounted antenna, was delighted.

"I think that they're super fun to play with," she said distractedly, while shepherding her allotment of ladybugs onto the base of a tree.

Addie High, 6, of Regina takes part in a lady bug release in Regina's Victoria Park on July 13. (CBC)

The last time Regina saw such a spectacle would have been around two decades ago, Morgan said, noting that the environmental angle, as well as cost-effectiveness, drew the city back to the idea.

The 300,000 bugs, which were shipped to Regina from California, cost the city around $1,200.

They reproduce, Morgan said, so their numbers should increase by next year. By the fall, he said, the city should be able to gauge their effectiveness.

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