Release of the first shipment of 5,000 lady bird beetles, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, which arrived in Grand Cayman last Tuesday, began the following day.
Dubbed the mealybug destroyer this ladybird beetle is a predator to all types of mealybugs and other soft-bodied insect pests, which it eats in large numbers. Releases of the beetles are initially being concentrated in areas outside of the main infestation zone where suspicious mealybugs have been detected and in the buffer zones around infested sites. The dual goal aims both to reduce the number of pink hibiscus mealybugs and the potential spread of the pest, states a press release.
A second shipment of 10,000 beetles arrived on Friday 30 June and they were released by Department of Agriculture staff on Saturday and Sunday.
Other shipments will continue to arrive and be released in the coming weeks.
The primary control agent of the PHM, the parasitic wasp, will begin arriving in batches of 5000 the week of July 17 and will continue arriving at the same weekly rate for the next six months. Homeowners will be notified by the DOA where these releases are taking place and people are reminded not to use pesticides in the release areas as the chemicals will not control the PHM but will instead kill the bio-control insects.
To ensure the success of the program it is essential that residents continue to be vigilant in reporting any suspected infestations of the pest to the department at 1-800-534-BUGS. Most importantly, they should not attempt to control the pest themselves through cutting or spraying suspected infestations.