We Released Thousands of Ladybugs in Stuyvesant Cove Park and It Was Awesome
Spring has sprung, and Stuyvesant Cove Park has some serious spring fever. Lots of flowers are blooming, all kinds of plants are springing up as fast as they can and we hope you'll come join us for our Community Volunteer Days!
But spring also brings pests, and because Stuy Cove is a completely organic, sustainably managed park, we can't use chemical pesticides to get rid of unwanted little visitors. Instead, we use an Integrated Pest Management system, which basically means recruiting other, beneficial insects to get rid of the nasty ones.
To that end, we ordered 140,000 ladybugs online (yes, you can do that!) and released them last week during our Wildflower Day event. And as a result, we l;earned some fascinating things about ladybugs!
For example, ladybugs are not actually bugs but beetles. while they may come in a variety of colors including yellow and pink, most native species are red. Some ladybugs has spots on their backs and some don't; however those spots only indicate which exact species of ladybug they are (there are more than 500 in the US alone), not the age of the insect. The number of spots do not change during the ladybug's life cycle. As larvae, they look like tiny spiky alligators, and as adults, they are bad-tasting and poisonous to birds and other insects, just like most red-colored animals. When startled or threatened, they secrete an orange liquid that smells and tastes bad. You might think that secretion is some kind of waste product, but it isn't! It's their blood, and it seeps out through their leg joints!
You can learn more about the fascinating world and life cycle of the ladybug on Wikipedia here.