Given the nature of their mission, today it is a major objective and responsibility for modern zoos to
contribute to conservation efforts, partly by adopting and promoting eco-friendly and sustainable
Plants in our Palm House are currently threatened by citrus mealybugs. The use of chemicals is out
of the question since our institution is located in the oldest conservation area in Hungary, so we have
deployed mealybug ladybirds (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri), also known as mealybug destroyers, as
biological control agents. A member of the ladybird family (Coccinellidae), the mealybug ladybird
prefers the same warm and humid environment that citrus mealybugs do.
Preying on species belonging to three families of the superfamily of scale insects, mealybug ladybirds
will pose no threat to indigenous ladybug populations even if they do get out of the Palm House –
unlike the notorious harlequin ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis). Originally from Australia but also found
in North Africa and Southern Europe, mealybug destroyers have been used as biocontrol agents
against various pests, such as cochineals in New Zealand and armored scales in California.
We have also deployed 500 ichneumon wasps for increased efficiency. Small and completely
harmless for humans, they also prey on citrus mealybugs during their short lifespans.
Source: Debrecen Zoo