This week, we've been to two of our sites (one in Weybridge, one in Chandlers Ford), releasing insects into the office plants there. Don't believe me? Read on....
We are forbidden by law from using chemical pesticides indoors. Keeping the plants very clean and shiny prevents most pests, but it's impossible to keep large (4m+) trees spotlessly clean all the way up. This is where predator bugs come in. We were treating a common pest called Mealy Bug, by releasing some bugs called Cryptolaemus, which are very small orange ladybirds. We can treat any pest this way, but only on large plants or display beds.
The theory is that the predators start eating the pest, then if there's almost none left their numbers decrease too, so that a stable population is established.
However... They are somewhat frustrating to release, as they seem to be quite happy to stay in the tube in which they are delivered, thank you very much, and don't seem that enamoured with their prey at first. Plus they need releasing in the evening, so a nice late night for me. D'oh!
P.S. It's worth noting that the garden centres sell a whole range of these predators too. You take a card and send it off and they are mailed directly to you.