The 72,000 ladybugs that were released inside the Mall of America in Minneapolis on Monday were not part of what some shoppers believed to be a belated April Fools' prank. They're an effort to naturally rid the indoor shopping facility of pests.
The ladybugs were brought in to help preserve the mall's greenery, which is often the target of common pests like aphids, or plant lice.
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"Ladybugs are what I like to call, sort of a biological defense system,"
Lydell Newby, the Mall of America's senior manager of Environmental Services, told Kare11.com, a Minneapolis NBC affiliate. "They can eat and eat and eat. A ladybug can eat thousands of aphids, and in an outside climate, once the conditions are right, they can live in your garden forever."
Though the effort was meant as a green alternative to sometimes-harmful pesticides, some off the mall's customers aren't happy about the ladybugs.
"What happens when they multiply?
Eventually they will get all over, in all the stores at the mall. Can the mall afford to fumigate everywhere if it happens?" one Facebook user posted on the Mall of America's Facebook page. "I now feel the need to shop at the smaller, local malls to feel safe."
"Not a good idea, now they gonna be all over the mall in the food courts and all," another concerned shopper wrote.
But a Mall of America spokesperson defended the ladybugs as a form of pesticide.
"We've been doing this for years," the spokesperson said, adding that the bugs will remain on the plants for their two-week life span and will be maintained by staffers. "No ladybug takeover yet. Chances are, you’ve visited the mall during this short period and have never noticed them. They are completely harmless."
Since its opening in 1992, the Mall of America has been using environmentally friendly procedures
such as passive solar heating and an extensive recycling program.
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