Mumbai: MNS lends a hand to save dying rain trees

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has been bringing ladybug beetles, known to eat plant lice, from Bangalore, to release them on trees

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena seems to have joined the crusade to save the city’s dying rain trees. Members of the party have been travelling to Bangalore to bring back ladybug beetles, which are known to eat plant lice and other bugs that have been causing fungal attacks on the trees.

On Saturday, Amit Thackeray released ladybug beetles on two infested trees at Shivaji Park to fight fungal attacks caused by mealybugs
On Saturday, Amit Thackeray released ladybug beetles on two infested trees at Shivaji Park to fight fungal attacks caused by mealybugs

On Saturday morning, Amit Thackeray, son of MNS chief Raj Thackeray, was spotted releasing 300 ladybugs on two infested trees at Shivaji Park. The beetles were purchased from Bangalore and party workers said they are going to head back to the city to purchase more.

A report by the garden department of the BMC stated that the city lost 238 rain trees to pest attacks last year. According to the report, an insect known as mealybug had infested around 500 rain trees, but the civic body was able to save 262 of them by taking a host of measures.

As an experiment, the BMC has been importing ladybugs that feed on the harmful pests from Pune and Bangalore since last year. The first batch of 600 ladybugs from Pune College of Agriculture, and another 300 from Bangalore were released on trees in the western suburbs in April 2014.

MNS corporator, Santosh Dhuri said, “We are trying to save the trees from dying, and will continue our efforts in this direction. We have instructed all our volunteers to identify every infested rain tree so that we can release ladybugs on them as soon as possible. We are also going to visit Bangalore again to try and purchase more beetles.”

Taking credit?
Sandeep Deshpande, MNS corporator from Dadar, claimed that releasing ladybugs to save the rain trees had been the party’s idea to begin with. “We will purchase more ladybugs, which will be released on 40 rain trees in Dadar.” He asked that if the BMC had started this initiative before them, why had they not covered the Shivaji Park area yet.

BMC Speak
Garden Department’s superintendent, Vijay Hire said, “We are going to Bangalore on February 27 and 28 and will bring 6,000 ladybug beetles. The cost of one ladybug is R3. Mealybugs are known to grow at a rapid pace and they infest trees in no time, spreading like a virus.”

When he was asked about the claim and the efforts of the MNS, Hire said, “We had started releasing the ladybugs on rain trees in Borivli and Kandivli last April itself, so it would be wrong on the part of the MNS to say that the experiment is their initiative.”

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