Monday, August 15, 2016

Lawin Project Series: Practical Pest Control at Home

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio 
 738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

Here are pest control techniques you can adopt at home.

1. To control furniture weevil and moths which destroy the felt and piano wood, place a teabag of well-dried and uncrushed black pepper in the piano chamber near the pedals. Paminta is a good repellant and has a pleasant smell.

Garlic controls most garden pests. Just add some crushed cloves to a pail of water before watering the plants. Hang some in the kitchen cupboard to repel pest like flies and  cockroaches.

2. Coconut trees whose shoots are destroyed by rhinoceros beetle (Oryctis rhinoceros) can be saved with ordinary sand. If the trees are low, sprinkle sand onto the leaf axils (angle between the leaf and axis from which it arises). Sand contains silica that penetrates the beetle’s conjunctiva, the soft part of the body where hard chitinous plates (hard outer membrane) are joined.

3. To control bean weevil (Callosobruchus maculatus), an insect that destroys stored beans, especially mungo), mix a little ash of rice hull (ipa’) and spread it in a way that sand kills the rhinoceros beetle.

4. To get rid of nematodes (microscopic elongated, cylindrical worms) in the soil, incorporate chopped or ground exoskeleton (skin) of shrimps into the soil, preferably mixing it with compost. Chitinase is formed which dissolves the cover of the egg and the body of the nematode. Use poultry dropping to reduce nematode population in farms and gardens.

5. To control the cucurbit (plants of the gourd family) fruit fly (Dacus cucurbitae), wrap the newly formed fruits of ampalaya and cucumber with paper bag. Bagging is also practiced on mango fruits. For ampalaya use newspaper (1/8 of the broadsheet) or used paper, bond size. Roll the paper into two inches in diameter and insert the young fruit, folding the top then stapling. Bagged fruits are clean, smooth and light green. Export quality mangoes are individually bagged on the tree.

6. To keep termites away from mud-plastered walls, incorporate termite soil (anthill or punso). To discourage goats from nibbling the trunk of trees, paint the base and trunk with manure slurry, preferably their own, mixed with carburo paint (white paint). 

7. Raise ducks to eat snail pest (golden kuhol) on the farm. Chicken and birds are natural insect predators.

8. An extra large size mosquito net can be made into a mini greenhouse. Underneath, you can raise vegetables without spraying. You can conduct your own experiments such as studying the life cycle of butterflies.

9. Plants with repellant properties can be planted around the garden. Examples of these are lantana (Lantana camara), chrysanthemum, neem tree, eucalyptus, madre de cacao (Gliricida sepium), garlic, onions, and kinchai (Allium tuberosum).

10. To scare birds that compete for feeds in poultry houses, recycle old balls, plastic containers, styro and the like, by painting them with two large scary eyes (like those of owls). This is the reason why butterfly wings have “eyes” on them to scare away would-be predators. Hang these modern scarecrows in areas frequented by birds. To scare off birds in the field, dress up used mannequins. In some cases, the mannequin may be more effective than the T-scarecrow. Discarded cassette tape ribbon tied along the field borders scares maya and possibly other pests.

Lantana camara or bangbangsit is effective as insect
repellant. It is also an ornamental plant and even attracts

beauiful butterflies. Why don't you grow it along your garden's border?

11. Prevent ants from invading dining table, kitchen sink, cupboard, by wiping with dilute natural vinegar, after final cleaning. (2 part water and 1 part natural vinegar). Vinegar is also a deodorizer of fungus and fish odor. Natural vinegar is a disinfectant  too.

12. Plant around the house eucalyptus, weeping willow trees.  They are repellents to many pest.  Use the dried leaves as smudge like "katol."  Smudging also induces fruiting of mango and other fruit trees, flowering os ornamental plants as well. Try it, it's also aroma therapeutic.

13. Never kill the spiders around. So with the wasps and preying mantis. They are nature's biological agents.  Just sweep the old cobwebs and let them rebuild new webs. Fogging and spraying is their number one enemy. Spraying and fogging are the last resort. Cover eyes and nose when spraying. Don't follow the advertisements. PESTICIDE IS HIGHLY DANGEROUS.  PESTICIDE POISONING IS CUMULATIVE. Scented sprays is deceiving because more poisons get into the body.

14. One practical means of insect control is by harvesting insects for food. This practice is not only confined among primitive societies but is still one of the most practical means of controlling insects. Anyone who has tasted kamaro’ (sautéed mole cricket – Gryllotalpa africana) would tell you it is as tasty as shrimps, lobsters or other crustaceans. After all, insects and shrimps belong to the same phylum – Arthropoda. Their body composition is the same, so with the nutrition we get - shrimp, crabs, locusts, cockroaches, spiders, scorpions, lobster, kuratsa, ipis dagat - all these are served in different recipes - to the gustatory delight of customers.  

Locusts may destroy crops but, in a way, bring food to its victims. During a swarm, locust is harvested by the sacks and sold for food and animal feeds. The same goes with gamu-gamu (winged termites – Macrotermes) at the onset of the rainy season, or the salagubang (Leucopolis irrorata), another insect delicacy. Other food insects are the grubs of kapok beetle locally called u-ok, eggs and larvae of hantik (green tree ant), larvae of honeybee and cheese maggots. Recently my family on vacation ordered hantik eggs in a restaurant in Vigan. Its price? P250 per order. Since then, we became vigilant of the presence of nests of this green tree ant in the trees around the house. 

The consequence is that, without the hantik, you will have more problems.  They are gleaners around the house, consuming morsels of pets which they carry to their tree nest to feed their young. They guard our orchard from intruders. No one would dare to climb a hantik-guarded tree. You can wait from the fruits to ripen in the tree. By the way, hantik ants seldom bite the residents of the house.  They seem to recognize their master.  There is some kind of pheromone affinity developed by association, and mutual understanding, I guess.  

Hantik are predators of insects, among them the dreaded hairy caterpillar - higad!  No wonder swarming of higad follows the harvesting of the green tree ants' nests.  

When is an insect a pest?

When we see an insect, instinct tells us to kill it. We should not. A caterpillar is a plant eater, but the beautiful butterfly that emerges from it is harmless, efficient pollinator. Hantik ants make harvesting of fruits inconvenient because of their painful bite, but they guard the trees from destructive insects. Houseflies carry germs, but without them the earth would be littered with dead, undecomposed organisms. They are nature’s chief decomposers working hand in hand with bacteria and fungi. Termites may cause a house to fall apart, but without them the forest would be a heap of fallen trees. 

It is natural to see leafhoppers on rice plants, aphids on corn, bugs in the soil, grasshopper on the meadow, borers on twigs, fruit flies on ripening fruits. These organisms live with us under one biosphere. If we can think we can dominate them, we have to think again. They have been dominating the earth for millions of years, even before prototype humans appeared. Just one proof: the total weight of ants inhabiting the earth far outweighs seven billion human inhabitants.

There is no way to escape pesky creatures. Conflict arises only when their populations increase rapidly to overrun our crops, spoil our stored products, and threaten our health and welfare.

We have set certain thresholds of our co-existence with insects. As long as they do not cross that line, we can cohabit this planet peacefully with them. By so doing, we can ponder at the beauty of their wings, the mystery of the fire they carry, the music they make, the sweetest syrup they make, the finest silk they weave, the magnitude of their numbers, their playful manners, their virtually indestructible built, or marvel at the mystery of their presence.~                                                                                                    

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