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Mall of America Becomes the Home for 72,000 Ladybugs

Update Date: Apr 25, 2013 02:37 PM EDT
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72,000 ladybugs were released into the Mall of America, America's largest mall located in Minnesota, as the latest attempt to control the infestation of aphids. Aphids are insects that are commonly known as plant lice. They suck the saps out of the plants and in turn, destroy them. The mall, which is roughly seven times larger than Yankee Stadium, is home to over 30,000 live plants that are being plagued by these aphids. Since ladybugs consume aphids, the mall's management hopes that these little creatures can solve their problem. The release of insects took place this past Monday in celebration of Earth Day.

"Ladybugs are what I like to call, sort of a biological defense system," the Mall of America's senior manager of environmental services, Lydell Newby stated.

Ladybugs can consume up to 5,000 aphids within their short lifespan of three to six weeks. These little insects, that come in colors ranging from orange to bright red, can also lay hundreds of eggs near aphids, and once these eggs hatch, the offspring will immediately attack the aphid colonies, as well as other plant eating insects.

Although ladybugs often reside on plants, some mall goers are worried that ladybugs will disrupt their experience at the mall. A few mall residents have complained about the possibility of ladybugs landing onto foods specifically. Despite these complaints, the mall managers are optimistic that the small insects will not bother customers, and will hopefully protect the live plants and keep them healthy.

Ladybugs, which used to be so abundant in the summertime, have steadily changed their habitats due to climate changes. According to the Lost Ladybug Project, over the past decades, ladybugs have been moving to other locations throughout North America, making the once abundant bug, scarce and rare. 

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