Minnesota’s Mall of America may be known as the largest retail complex in the country, but it is also now home to 72,000 lady bugs! The ladybugs were released inside the 96.4 acre mall to help tend to the complex’s 30,000 plants and trees. The plants act as a natural air filter for the mall, and the ladybugs will help protect them from aphids and other pests.
In order to deal with pesky aphids, which destroy plants by eating them, the mall managers decided that bringing in commercial pesticides would be too harmful to their customers and plants. Instead, they decided to create a natural biological defense system-by calling in the ladybug troops. The ladybugs naturally attack aphids, who pose a threat to the longevity of the mall’s 400 trees and other plants.
Inside the confines of the enormous mall complex (it is large enough to fit seven Yankee Stadiums!), the ladybugs can thrive- and stay concentrated enough to do their jobs. In an outdoor garden, a natural pest defense system like ladybugs would fail, as the ladybugs would be likely to fly away rather than stay together. But inside the mall, they are put to best use, as they protect the limited area.
The ladybug army natural pest control system isn’t the only green practice the Mall of America has invested in. The mall converts its many restaurants’ deep fryer fat into biofuel that powers the mall’s security vehicles. The expansive complex is also heated by passive solar heat through 1.2 miles of skylights, an incredible feat in a city known for cold, harsh winters.
Images ©Gilles San Martin and ©pbech