Downtown Eugene is known for its green attractions and colorful hanging flower baskets. Keeping downtown plants and flowers healthy, however, requires some work – by City staff and some helpful insects. Starting May 25, City of Eugene Facilities will begin releasing over a million ladybugs and green lace wings throughout downtown to help prevent harmful insects, such as aphids and thrips, from impacting the seasonal hanging flower baskets and planters. This effort is a result of several years of work by the City of Eugene Facilities Division to move away from pesticide use and use natural approaches to help control plant pests.
Last year Facilities began using ladybugs and green lace wings to help manage harmful pests in conjunction with using pest resistant plant varieties. More than 50,000 ladybugs were released downtown, at a rate of approximately 5,000 to 8,000 ladybugs every two weeks over the course of the summer season. The combination of pest resistant plants and the beneficial insects turned out to be a complete success.
Based on that success, Facilities will continue using the beneficial insects as the primary tool for managing plant pests downtown. Facilities staff expect to release more than 1.3 million Green Lacewing eggs, 4,000 Green Lacewing adults, 2,000 preying mantis eggs, and 180,000 Ladybugs, for a total of more than 1.5 million beneficial insects, over the course of the season.
Facilities began working with Beyond Toxics and other stakeholders several years ago on strategies to reduce or eliminate the need for pesticide use for the hanging flower baskets and planters. With assistance from Johnson’s Nursery, the City also started using pest resistant plant varieties in key areas downtown that are often more susceptible to pest infestations.