FUKUYAMA, Hiroshima - Ladybugs are a natural enemy of aphids, which damage agricultural products, and researchers have been studying ways to utilize them for exterminating harmful insects. However, ladybugs fly away when left alone, leading to a variety of nonflying ladybugs being bred. A company in Ibaraki Prefecture began selling the new ladybug as a new type of "biopesticide" in June.
Tomokazu Seko, 37, lived in Chiba from primary school to high school and became interested in environmental problems when he watched the news on such issues as acid rain during his middle school days.
When he was a third-year high school student, he read "Silent Spring," which describes the danger of chemicals, written by American biologist Rachel Carson. The book made him think, "I want to reduce chemical pesticide use in society."
After graduating from Okayama University Graduate School, he joined the National Agriculture and Food Research Organisation, an independent administrative institution. Seko began researching ways to exterminate harmful insects at its research centre in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, focusing his attention on the ladybug species called Harmonia axyridis.
After capturing about 400 insects of the species at the city's parks, he bred those who had less of an ability to fly over about 30 generations. Commenting on the fact that it took 10 years to commercialize the ladybug, Seko said: "I had plenty of time as I was a newly recruited employee. I was lucky."
If biopesticides are widely used, harmful insects that have built up a tolerance chemical pesticides can be reduced, while also lessening the negative environmental impact chemical pesticides have on the environment.
"The best part is that you can see the ladybugs working with your own eyes," Seko said.