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Mumbaikars want to breed bugs to save dying trees

After the survey of trees in Mumbai was reported by mid-day, many residents have approached the BMC to learn how to breed ladybug beetles that prevent fungal attack on trees

To save the dying trees of Mumbai, residents of the city have come up with an ingenious solution. They are planning to breed ladybug beetles, known to eat plant lice and other bugs that cause fungal attack.


Pic/AFP

Speaking to mid-day, Avinash Yadav, tree officer at Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said, “After the issue of trees dying due to fungal attack in the city was highlighted in the newspaper, many residents contacted us with the intent to save them.

They have come forward requesting that they want to start breeding ladybug beetles in Mumbai itself, so that we don’t have to get it from Pune or Bangalore.”

Joining hands
Citizens are also using social networking sites like Facebook and have created a page called ‘Mumbai Trees’, where they discuss ways how the city’s trees can be saved. Presently, the BMC is getting beetles from Pune and Bangalore, paying Rs 2 for a single ladybug.

“To start the breeding process, we will have to take training in a Pune lab. Many Mumbaikars have shown interest in undergoing the training,” said a senior BMC official.

Recently, the civic body got the first batch of 600 ladybugs from Pune College of Agriculture, to be released on the dying rain trees. Another batch of 300 from Bangalore has been released on trees in western suburbs.

Rs 2
Price of a single ladybug beetle

Tree survey
In February, mid-day had reported how an Accenture employee surveyed 611 trees across western suburbs on foot for over two months. The survey revealed that half of them were either dead or dying. After the report, the authorities at BMC have initiated steps to save them, like digging a pit around the trees to provide water, replacing dead trees with new, and acquiring ladybug beetles to help save trees from fungal attack.

How does beetle help save trees?
Once released, the predatory beetles are known to eat aphids (plant lice) and other bugs that cause fungal attack on the trees.

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