PIKAS- CUTE, BUT DESTRUCTIVE!

On the grasslands of the Tibetan plateau, one sometimes hears a strange chattering – an excited buzz that seems to emanate from the earth itself. Anyone who stops to look for the source will quickly realize that the ground is marked by a series of holes, from which small, shy plateau_pika_1creatures are likely to be watching. These shy creatures are the tiny rodent-like mammals called pikas. However, these animals aren’t as cute as they seem. Pikas are often accused of degrading meadows and grasslands and deteriorating the quality of trees and crops. Although important to the ecosystem, these mammals often feed on orchards and trees, thereby causing damage to the beautiful abundant grasslands.

Pikas have a special affinity towards grasses, weeds and tall wildflowers that grow in their rocky, high mountain habitat. In the recent years, due to overgrazing and the global climate change, the alpine Tibetan meadow has degraded seriously. The degraded meadow provides the plateau pika with a better habitat and results in the overabundance of plateau pika. Now, plateau pika is regarded as a pest because of its competition with livestock for herbage and its burrowing activity which leads to soil erosion and vegetation disturbances. During the winter months (December through March) in Baluchistan, Pakistan, when native vegetation is lacking, foraging pikas often feed on apple tree trunks and branches. Their gnawing produces at times complete debarking around the tree trunk and even up to 25 to 40 cm above ground level.

Higher level damage results when the animals travel over snow toPlateau_Pika-thumb-600x465-142538feed. This damage often kills trees or, in the case of incomplete girdling, reduced production. It is estimated that damage losses per year caused by pikas in the apple orchards of Ziarat valley run into hundreds of thousands of dollars! In 1974, in one orchard, 89.9% of 3 to 4 year old trees suffered severe overwinter due to pikas debarking the trunks and branches. This forced the farmer to replant his orchard with new saplings. Moreover, subsistence crops growing between the apple trees like wheat, barley, fodder, maize and potatoes are fed upon by the pikas.

The article given below would better explain the situation.

newscientist

Voracious Tibetan pikas fingered for grassland loss

11 October 2011

 These cute critters are accused of having a destructive appetite. The pikas burrow through the meadows of the Tibetan plateau, feasting on grass and storing hay for the long winter. China is exterminating the creatures by throwing botulism-laced grain into pikas’ burrows in an effort to preserve what’s left of deteriorating grasslands for sheep and yaks, according to a BBC Radia report.

 But Andrew Smith of Arizona State University contends that pikas may not be the cause after all. Overgrazing may be destroying the meadows, leaving behind short grasslands that provide pikas with a better view of potential predators. He worries that aggressive control programmes will throw the delicate ecosystem off balance, endangering birds that nest in pika burrows and brown bears that depend on the creatures as a primary food source.

 Researchers at Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology in China defend the approach, claiming pikas consume 4.4 billion kilograms of grass each year – the forage needed for 4.8 million sheep. They claim their programme is simply seeking to control pika numbers so that overgrazed areas can be rehabilitated.

pika_newThe primary cause of concern regarding pikas is that they aren’t always bad for the ecosystem. On treating grasslands with poison against these creatures, it was noticed that in areas where they had poisoned the pikas most of the native species of mammals and even ecosystem functions in the Tibetan plateau had disappeared or been greatly diminished. Also, by digging holes in the ground, pikas allow rainwater to percolate into the earth and replenish the water table. Without the humble pika, the water simply runs along the surface, triggering floods and soil erosion. Thus we require a solution which would effectively protect our apple orchards and crops while at the same time not harm the animal in any way.

That is precisely what C Tech Corporation provides! The non-toxic, non-hazardous product, Combirepel™, offered by C Tech Corporation help us keep rodents at bay without causing any harm to the rodent or any other species that consumes or comes in contact with it. It is an eco-friendly product that can be safely incorporated in polymers or coated on surfaces to repel rodents and other animals without killing them. Combirepel™ is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, or as a liquid solution. For protection against pikas, this product could be coated on tree trunks or added in mulches. This would provide suitable protection again pikas, without harming them in any way!

QUELLING THE QUELEA BIRDS!

The importance of agriculture in sustaining the population and all other industrial sectors cannot be overstated. Since agriculture provides inputs to almost all sectors, it is of utmost significance to protect and maintain our agricultural produce. However, but there is one small birdQuelea,-Red-headed-Speke_32 that readily eats the ears of cultivated grasses and descends on the crops in such vast numbers that it is a major pest. This is the black-faced dioch, or quelea, as it is now generally called from its scientific name Quelea quelea. The quelea is a relative of the common house sparrow. It is the same size as a house sparrow and has similar, generally dull, plumage but the conical bill is red. A flock of quelea has the capacity for eating all the grass seeds after which they fly off in search of new feeding grounds.

The quelea flocks are huge; it is impossible to count the birds in them. When feeding, a flock is continually on the move. When the flock goes to roost in the evening, it may need several acres of trees to provide perching space for the tens of thousands of birds, and stout branches may break under their weight. Not surprisingly, farmers in Africa live in fear of a quelea flock descending on their fields. The village farmers keep a continuous look-out and bang drums or rattle empty tins to scare the queleas away. This has little effect and the birds seem to come back no matter what. An individual quelea consumes an average of 18 grams of grain per day!

The devastation caused by these birds is nothing short ofng-african-elephant-queleasastounding. Today, queleas are referred to as ‘feathered locusts’ and are probably the most abundant and most destructive bird in the world, with agricultural losses estimated at USD 70 million per annum. It is not unusual for flocks to number into the millions, so a flock of 2 million birds can eat up to 50 tonnes of grain in a day, or 1500 tonnes within 30 days, which is worth approximately USD 600,000. The east African countries of Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Sudan suffer an annual total loss of grain worth USD 15 million!

The below article on the ruinous effects of this bird will emphasize the gravity of the situation.

counties

Quelea birds invade wheat farms in Narok

By Kipchumba Kemei

June 17th 2013

Wheat farmers in Narok County are starring at losses running to millions of shillings after Quelea birds invaded their farms.

The millions of birds that migrated from Lake Natron in Tanzania have according to Agriculture Ministry officials, destroyed more than 100 acres.

The ministry has consequently dispatched a plane and personnel from the Crop Protection Directorate to kill them before they cause further destruction.

Angry farmers are now accusing ministry officials of responding after the birds had already invaded their farms.

“We demand compensation because the ministry knew that these birds migrate to Narok annually around this time. The losses are unacceptable,” said Erisha Kuluo, farmer’s spokesman.

Kuluo who has lost more than 40 acres in one of his farms at Nairegi Enkare area said most farmers were expecting an average of between 25 to 30 bags per acre, adding that the loss was being aggravated by the fact that they borrowed loans from the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and other commercial financial institutions.

“There were adequate rains but our hopes have been torpedoed by the birds’ invasion. If the compensation will not be forthcoming, we will not be in business next year,” added Kuluo who also petitioned AFC and other financial institutions to delay recalling of loans.

Red-billed QueleaThe traditional methods to control quelea birds include the spraying of poison on to the flocks and blowing up the nesting colonies and roosts with dynamite. It has been estimated that over one thousand million queleas are killed every year. A thousand million birds is a huge number to kill every year, yet there seems to be as many queleas as there were before. It seems as if there is no point wasting time and money trying to get rid of them. If huge flocks can be easily wiped out by poison or explosive without making much difference, it is difficult to see what can be done to reduce the quelea menace. This species seems to be immune from destruction.

What we need is a safe, non-toxic method to keep these birds at bay, without using hazardous poisonous chemicals that may harm the environment. Combirepel™, a product offered by C Tech Corporation, is the solution to all your quelea-related problems!

Combirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous and environmentally safe additive that may be used to repel rodents and birds from the application. This product keeps pesky birds and rodents at bay, without causing them any harm. The most striking feature that differentiates it from harmful pesticides is that it is not toxic and will have no negative effect on the environment whatsoever! Combirepel™ is available in masterbatch, lacquer form or as a liquid solution. This product, if incorporated in mulches or agricultural films used to cover the grains and crops, could effectively protect our yield from the disastrous effects of quelea.

RODENTS AND TRASH!

Rats eating our food, chewing on our articles, and causing chaos everywhere is a very common sight. These rats chew and damage our articles, penetrate through our packaged bags and consume our food which may eventually lead to a huge loss of food and money. An even more serious problem is the hygiene issue associated with italg-rat-eating-jpgand the possibility of disease transmission. But what if these rats didn’t just eat and contaminate our fresh or stored food? What if these creatures also wreaked havoc in the unhealthiest and unhygienic places like our garbage? Garbage and trash is a breeding ground for insects and other disease causing organisms. They contain rotten and spoilt food, various unwanted commodities, hazardous and non-hazardous waste etc. Imagine the threat when our already unhygienic and potentially dangerous garbage also attracts rodents! The rodents would considerably add to the threat of disease transmission and air and water pollution.

Rats excel at infecting others. They catch and pass on dozens of horrifying diseases, including salmonella, hepatitis, tularemia, plague, and a handful of parasites. Humans and dogs catch the disease by playing in or around these areas. Rats thrive on garbage, which, according to the Department of Sanitation, collects 12,000 tons of refuse per day in New York. There is no reliable census of rats, though some estimates for New York City have gone as high as 30 million, up from 250,000 at mid-century. Garbage is an excellent food source for rodents. Thus, as long as there is garbage on the streets or in our homes, there is a very high possibility of rodent infestations. One would think that the obvious solution would be to control the amount of garbage created and implement safe garbage disposal practices. However, this is easier said than done. Many stores place their garbage out in the street after closing, allowing rats to feed on it. Also, in case of the absence of trash cans around, people would just toss their garbage on the ground. All these are excellent sources of food for rodents.

The following article published on Mail Online would effectively explain this situation further.

Now New York faces an invasion of RATS as garbage bags pile up after snow chaos


Posted: 6 January 2011


The streets of New York may now be clear of snow but massive piles of garbage bags are bringing even bigger problems for the city’s beleaguered residents – giant rats.

Ten days after the worst blizzard on record hit the Big Apple, huge piles of snow have been replaced with mountains of trash bags.

The piles of garbage have been caused by the huge backlog facing sanitation collection workers after the city was paralysed by snow – and there’s more snow on the way, forecasters warned today.

As the backlog of trash collection starts to clear, it has left an unpleasant legacy – soaring numbers of rats.

‘It’s really bad. All the rats come out here at night… big, giant rats,’ Domingo Colon said. ‘You could see them running all over the place.’

Brooklyn property manager Larry Glick told CBS: ‘Williamsburg has been forgotten – it’s a land of garbage. It’s ridiculous.’

Mr Glick is among hundreds of people who are angry because of the garbage they’ve had on their streets for days.

And many Williamsburg residents hold Mayor Michael Bloomberg responsible.

‘Look at this, all the garbage everywhere,’ one resident said. ‘He’s not doing anything for us, nothing at all.’

Another added: ‘The mayor should stop hiding and come out to pick up the garbage.’

In Manhattan, some of the piles were even taller – some nearly 7ft.

The Department of Sanitation said they were making steady progress in reducing the backlog of trash, with nearly 40,000 tons collected on Monday and Tuesday. 

It expects to have all the rubbish collected by the end of the week.

The only effective way to get rid Brown Rats (Rattus norvegicus) amongst garbageof rats is to get rid of garbage. This is obviously impossible as garbage or trash is produced by almost all activities and processes in our day to day lives. Thus we need a better alternative which would help us prevent the rise of population of rodents in such areas and thereby reduce the risk of disease transmission. Rat traps are one of the ways which could help us control rat infestations; however, this method is tedious and more often than not the rodents outsmart us and escape easily.

C Tech Corporation offers a non-toxic rodent repellent called Combirepel™ which effectively keeps rodents such as rats and squirrels away from the application. The reason this product is unique is because it does not harm the animal in any way, it only repels the species. Combirepel™ is available in masterbatch, lacquer or as a liquid solution. It is an environment-friendly product which causes minimum impact on the environment. To keep rodents away from garbage areas and to control their proliferation, Combirepel™ in masterbatch form can be incorporated into garbage bags or trash cans during processing.

The Annoying blue bugs of autumn!

Since time immemorial, the entire insect world has seemed intent on either stealing our blood or stinging us or ruining our crops and plants. Either way, they can make life miserable. People spend a lot of time in their yards, planting, pruning, and caring for their landscapes, with the aim of protecting their plants and trees from insects and making sure that they grow beautifully. However, many trees and shrubs have problems with pests such as aphids or other sucking insects. These insects excrete honeydew, a sweet, partially digested plant sap that is a main food of many ants. Plants with these sucking pests not only attract ants, but help feed and grow entire ant colonies. One such type of aphid is the blue ash aphid.

Woolly aphids (1)Blue ash aphids are small, blue-coloured insects that come from blue ash trees. They arrive after the first frost of the new winter season melts away every year. These insects are known by several names, conifer root aphid, blue ash aphid, Oregon ash aphid or smoky-winged ash aphid. Aphids feed by piercing host tissue and sucking plant sap through tube-like mouth parts. While removing plant sap, aphids may also inject toxins, plant growth regulators or pathogens along with saliva to aid feeding. Aphids excrete large amounts of honeydew which is essentially unprocessed plant sap. Many insects use honeydew and therefore are attracted to these colonies. The congregations give tree trunks a fuzzy blue appearance that extends up to three feet away from the base. Damage to the roots of fir trees can cause yellowing and stunting of small immature firs.

The blue ash aphids have a similar life cycle as normal, but instead of attacking the above ground parts of the plant they attack the roots of the plant. Like ordinary aphids they suck the sap from the plant thereby weakening it and possibly transmitting viruses and other diseases. When the infestation is heavy the plant or tree will wilt especially on dry days. The leaves may turn yellow and fall prematurely and the plant will be stunted. These pests often go largely unnoticed because they are underground. The damage they do show up mostly when the conditions are dry.

The below article would help understand the situation better.

khq

Blue ash aphids invade Spokane

 Posted: Oct 20, 2009

Kevin Randal

7631963_origSPOKANE, Wash. – Millions of little blue bugs can be seen just about anywhere in the Northwest.

You’ve probably seen them, there in your face, they invade your yard and many are asking what can be done to stop them.

Experts say the bugs are Blue Ash Aphids that come from Blue Ash Trees in the area. They come after the first frost of the season every year and stay for a couple weeks at least.

Phone calls have been flooding pest control companies and garden shops wanting to know how to get rid of them. Experts tell KHQ local news there’s nothing anyone can do but wait for them to leave.

Trees and plants should not be affected by them because most plant life has gone dormant anyway.

Experts also say they’re not a threat to public health.

The blue ash aphids are more of a nuisance than a threat. They are harmless to humans except for the sneezes they cause as we breathe them in. These pesky little gnat-like insects make breathing a challenge. Since they arrive in large swarms, complete eradication is not worth the time or effort and may be impossible. Thus we need a foolproof solution to deal with these pests.

At C Tech Corporation, we offer a safe and foolproof solution to deal with these tiny insects. Combirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous product that primarily repels insects and rodents from the application. It is a broad spectrum repellent which works against almost 500 species of pestering bugs thus efficaciously fending them away from the application. The best feature of this product is that it is environmentally safe and causes no harm to the insect as well as humans and the environment. It is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, and as a liquid solution. To keep these insects at bay, this product can be coated on the tree trunks in lacquer form. The repelling mechanism of the product would ward off the blue ash aphids and any other insect that could harm our trees.

Attack of the Bagrada Bugs!

At a time when increasing agricultural produce and improving agricultural yield is given paramount importance, our fruits and vegetables have been under siege by one more pest.Bagrada-hilaris2This is the adult Bagrada bug, which goes after winter crops such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower and radish. It sucks the sap out of tender leaves, leaving puncture marks and a stippled or wilted leaf. The Bagrada bug, Bagrada hilaris, also called the painted bug, is a stink bug that attacks various vegetable crops and weedy mustards and is particularly devastating to young seedlings and leafy greens. Native to northern Africa, the Bagrada turned up in the United States in Los Angeles in the June of 2008.

The Bagrada sucks the juices from the bite and leaves a toxic sort of saliva at the scene of the crime that can cause the plant to die even after the bug has left. Further, even if the Bagrada’s sap-sucking ways aren’t fatal, they can cause extensive wilting and yellowing, and stunt the growth of their hosts. These vile pests feed by inserting piercing mouth parts into plant tissues, which creates starburst-shaped lesions on leaves and stems. Continued feeding causes leaf scorch, stunting, blind terminals and forked or multiple heads on broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Initial damage to leaves is observed along the margins as stippling, or small tan or white dots left where the leaves were pierced by insect mouthparts and the juices sucked out. If feeding pressure is severe enough, the stippled areas merge and the leaf eventually wilts and dies.

Adding to their nastiness is the fact that Bagradas bagrada_bugs_r620x349are capable of flying up wind to find new plants to feast on, and that they lay most of their eggs in the soil, thus making traditional predators worthless as possible controls. The infestation may be widespread covering the stems and leaves of the tree, leaving faecal droppings on the backsides of leaves. Local growers estimated that in some fields Bagrada bugs caused as much as 35% yield loss in green cabbage and greater than 35% yield loss in red cabbage! In broccoli, damage estimates by growers have ranged from 15‐30% losses due to these insects.

The severity of this issue can be better understood by reading the below article.

grower

Pesky Bagrada bugs expand northward in California

 09/16/2014 

Vicky Boyd

Bagrada bugs, which were first confirmed in California six years ago, have been steadily expanding their range to the east and north.

They now have been confirmed as far north as Yolo County and have taken up residence in counties stretching from Santa Clara and San Mateo west to Fresno and Inyo counties, according to a University of California news release.

The university has tracked the pest’s expansion using citizen scientists.

Bagrada bugs, which have also hit crops in Arizona’s Yuma Valley, prefer cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and broccoli.

In home gardens, they also have been found on green beans, cantaloupe, corn, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and sunflowers.

In addition, the bugs have been found on ornamentals, including sweet alyssum, stock and candytuft.

Adult Bagrada bugs are about the size of a watermelon seeds with black backs and white and orange markings.

1Immature nymphs are more round with red, black and white markings. They can be mistaken for ladybird beetles.

Both adults and nymphs have piercing and sucking mouth parts. As they feed, they remove plant sap and cause dead spots plant leaves and stems where they feed.

Under severe infestations, especially with young transplants, the pest can stunt, deform and even kill plants.

Originally it was hoped that Northern California’s colder winter temperatures would help prevent their northerly march.

But bugs simply take up refuge in the top layer of soil around the crops and appear to survive.

The Bagrada bug lays most of its eggs in the soil, so natural predators such as wasps aren’t effective controls. Picking the bugs off plants by hand is not feasible because the infestations are so thick and sudden, with multiple generations occupying one plant at a time. Thus we need a solution which would effectively keep the Bagrada population in check, keeping them away from our vegetables and crops, while at the same time not having any negative impact on the vegetables or the environment.

C Tech Corporation offers a product called Combirepel™, which is a non-toxic, non-hazardous, environmentally safe insect repellent. It can repel more than 500 species of insects on account of it being a broad spectrum anti-insect repellent. The most striking feature of Combirepel™ is that it neither kills the target species, nor the non-target species. It will simply keep the insects away from the application. This product is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, and as a liquid solution. Combirepel™ can be added in mulches or incorporated in agricultural bags and films, which could be used to keep our vegetables and fruits safe and guarded against the pesky Bagrada bugs!

Combirepel™ to protect our Crape Myrtles!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Crape myrtles are beautiful trees that showcase their beauty in candy colours every summer. Unfortunately, the trees that brighten our hottest months are under attack by a foreign invader. Have you seen a strange white cottony growth on the trunks of beautiful crape myrtles? If you look closely, you’ll notice that it is alive! Meet the crape myrtle scale. It destroys the bark of crape myrtles causing a lot of damage in a small amount of time. It’s also accompanied by heavy layer of black sooty mold on the branches. Crape myrtle Bark Scale is a small insect that appears as a white or grey felt-like encrustation.  They may be found anywhere on crape myrtles, and often appear near pruning sites and branch crotches of more mature wood.

Generally, the first sign of crape myrtle bark scale is the black sooty mold on the tree bark. The scale excretes honeydew that coats leaves and limbs, resulting in a sticky coating from the excess sugars excreted from the insects’ feeding. Sooty mold grows on the honeydew.  This results in a black coating that appears on the bark of the branches and trunks of crape myrtles. Additionally, white cases are visible, and they enclose the adult female scales. The tiny pest was first identified in the Dallas area about 10 years ago and is believed to have entered the country from Asia. Since then, it’s been slowly making its way across the South, arriving in Shreveport-Bossier City about four years ago. Infestations have also been verified in Houma, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia.

It was reported that out of the 430 Crape CrapeMyrtleBarkScaleShreveportIILOWMyrtle trees on the campus of Louisiana State University in Shreveport, 60 percent of these iconic trees are affected by the Bark Scale. Scales can be found on various parts of the tree as oval, white, crusted clusters of insects with a powdery waxy appearance. The insects don’t seem to be fatal to trees, but they are unsightly and weaken trees so they aren’t likely to bloom profusely. The bark scale has been known to stress the tree and make it less healthy. The scale gives these beautiful trees a burnt appearance which makes them look unsightly and weak.

The below article would explain the situation better.

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“Pest” Disfiguring Crape Myrtles in McKinney

By Catherine Ross

May 5, 2014

A pest is leaving its mark on one of North Texas’ favorite flowering plants.

In McKinney, the crape myrtle has become an emblem of the city where this year they received congressional recognition as “America’s Crape Myrtle City.”

The plant is native to Southeast Asia but has been cultivated throughout warm climates, including Texas.

“We’re really proud of crape myrtles and our association with crape myrtles,” said Neil Sperry, renowned Texas horticulturalist and a board member of the Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney.

Sperry said his organization, over the last decade, has helped plant 20,000 crape myrtles within city limits.

However, over the same time, something “unsightly” has also taken root in the plants.

“It’s moved up through Collin County over the years and become a serious problem,” said Dr. Greg Church, the Collin County AgriLife Extension Agent through Texas A&M.  “[It’s] two different organisms, making the plant look bad.”

Church said little insects feed off the plants, in turn, excreting honey dew.  That substance attracts a “sooty mold fungus,” which transforms the bark.

The pest is called “crape myrtle bark scale” and, according to experts, is threatening both the aesthetics and the utility of the plant.

“During drought conditions, which we’ve experienced the past three years, it can weaken the plant,” Church said.

There have been no plant deaths attributed to the bark scale, but the condition is spreading across the American South, specifically in the past two years, though it’s been present in North Texas since 2004.

Church said if the plant is manageably small enough, the bark scale can be cleaned off with water and some light soap.

However, Sperry recommends placing insecticide at the roots of larger crape myrtle and clusters.

7-4-11 001Crape myrtle is one of the few trees that bear colourful flower displays through much of the summer, come in a variety of stunning colours, is easy to grow, and until now has been relatively pest free. Unfortunately, the pest-free reputation is changing with the advent of the bark scale. With their extremely high reproduction potential, there could be at least two generations of the bark scale in one year. This can be a difficult pest to control and it may take multiple years of treatment.  So, how do we fight this pest?  Keep reading!

C Tech Corporation provides a unique non-toxic product called Combirepel™ which is an environmentally safe insect and rodent repellent. It can repel more than 500 species of insects on account of it being a broad spectrum anti-insect repellent. The most striking feature of Combirepel™ is that it neither kills the target species, nor the non-target species. It will simply keep the insects away from the application. Combirepel™ in lacquer form can be coated on the trunks of our beloved crape myrtles, which would effectively keep the bark scale from infesting and causing the trees any damage!

Combating Feral Pig menace!

downloadFeral Pigs have always been a great nuisance and damage caused by them is well known. Damage caused by feral hogs is a growing problem because of their destructive feeding habits, potential to spread disease and increasingly growing population. Feral hogs (Sus scrofa) are an old world species belonging to the family Suidae, and in Texas include European wild hogs, feral hogs, and European-feral crossbreeds. Feral hogs are domestic hogs that either escaped or were released for hunting purposes. With each generation, the hog’s domestic characteristics diminish and they develop the traits needed for survival in the wild. Because of their destructive feeding habits and potential to spread disease, feral hogs are a substantial liability to agriculture and native wildlife.

The problematic nature of feral hogs hasdownload (6) caused several states in the U.S. to declare feral hogs to be an invasive species. There are about 4 to 5 million feral hogs in the United States alone. They cause estimated $106.5 million damage to Australia’s agricultural industries, environment and social values each year. Given adequate nutrition, a wild pig population can double in just 4 months. Moreover they are intelligent animals and readily adapt to changing conditions. They may modify their response to humans fairly rapidly if it benefits their survival. Damage caused by feral hogs is a growing problem because of their destructive feeding habits, potential to spread disease and increasingly growing population. A conservative estimate of the cost of wild pig damage to  agriculture and the environment in the United States currently stands at $1.5 billion annually.

Let us look at the below news article;

 

news

 

 

Feral hogs an increasing problem

William Johnson9:03 a.m. CDT August 23, 2014

OPELOUSAS – Feral hog populations are growing fast in Louisiana, damaging millions of dollars worth of crops in the process.

“They are becoming an increasingly severe problem here in St. Landry Parish,” said Vince Deshotel, St. Landry Parish County agent with the LSU AgCenter.

He pointed to one local rice farmer who recently lost 40 to 60 acres of his crop to wild hogs. “It is difficult to put an estimate on the damage they are doing, but it is significant,” Deshotel said.

To determine just how significant that damage is here and across the state, LSU AgCenter forestry economist Shaun Tanger is in the process of conducting two surveys of landowners.

“Feral hogs are a serious problem throughout southwest Louisiana and elsewhere. About the only areas not affected are northeast Louisiana and south of New Orleans. But it is only a matter of time,” Tanger said. He added that wild hogs breed quickly and are rapidly, expanding their range.

Tanger said, as the damage caused by feral hogs continues to increase in Louisiana, there needs to be some way to quantify the harm they are doing.

To do that, he is sending out a questionnaire by email in the next few days, with a second, longer hard copy survey coming by regular mail shortly thereafter.

“We know that damage from these animals is on the rise, but we are just not able to detail an amount,” Tanger said. “We have reports of damage from farmers and some other landowners, but we want to get a better picture of the problem.”

At present, Tanger said the problem continues to be mainly in rural areas, but as hog numbers increase, they will inevitably move into urban areas, causing damage to lawns and golf courses and possible collisions on roads.

“The pigs are known to cause problems with agricultural crops because they can be used for wallows, for forage and for protection,” Tanger said.

The animals cause damage to agricultural crops with tubers that they can root up, but they also will damage above-ground crops such as wheat, sorghum, corn, rice, vegetables and fruits, he said.

The purpose of the two surveys is related to timing. “I need to get some information in hand pretty quick, and the one-page emailed survey will provide that,” he said. “But the paper survey will be about six pages, so it is designed to capture more detailed information.”

The questions on the first survey will ask demographic-type questions like what parish do you live in, how much land you own, what crops you produce, what are the damages you’ve sustained and what have you done to prevent damage?

“The second survey will be more robust, asking questions like what are your perceptions of the damage caused by wild hogs, who should be responsible for disseminating information and which agencies, state and federal, should provide financial assistance, if any,” Tanger said. “So it will be a much more thorough investigation.”

Tanger said the second survey will be co-authored by LSU AgCenter forest products professor Richard Vlosky and Michael Kaller, LSU AgCenter wildlife and fisheries specialist.

Tanger said Texas and Georgia have done studies like this to get estimates of the amount of damage being done by feral hogs.

“I believe Texas reported a damage estimate from feral hogs about five or six years ago to be in the $50 million range,” Tanger said. “With those type numbers, I know there is a southeastern-wide push coming down from the federal government to collaboratively figure this thing out.”

He said a major problem with feral hogs is their ability to reproduce at an alarming rate.

“The females begin reproducing at around 10 months of age and can have up to two litters of four to eight piglets each per year,” Tanger said.

It is estimated that feral swine in the United States cause more than $1.5 billion in damages and control costs each year, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition to destroying crops, feral swine also cause erosion to river banks. They are also “efficient predators and, when given the opportunity, prey upon young livestock and other small animals, such as ground-nesting birds,” Tanger said.

Estimates from the USDA show wild hogs in at least 35 states, with the largest populations in California, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas.

Tanger said the results of his study will not only tell how widespread the damage from these animals is here in Louisiana, but could also help in bringing the problem to the attention of government officials in ways that may affect policy.

download (4)Wild pigs can cause a variety of damage. The most common complaint is rooting sometimes also called grubbing, resulting in the destruction of crops and pastures. Damage to farm ponds and watering holes for livestock is another common problem. Predation on domestic stock and wildlife has been a lesser problem in North America. Damage to crops and rangeland by wild pigs is easily identified. Rooting in wet or irrigated soil is generally quite visible, but can vary from an area of several hundred square feet or more to only a few small spots where the ground has been turned over. Rooting destroys pasture, crops, and native plants, and can cause soil erosion. In California, wild pigs have entered turkey pens, damaging feeders, eating the turkey feed, and allowing birds to escape through damaged fences. Wild pigs in New South Wales, Australia, reportedly killed and ate lambs on lambing grounds. Producers in Texas and California reported to USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services that 1,473 sheep, goats, and exotic game animals were killed by wild pigs in 1991. Wild pigs are also capable of disease transmission when they are associated with domestic livestock. Cholera, swine brucellosis, trichinosis, bovine tuberculosis, foot and mouth disease, African swine fever, and pseudo rabies are all diseases that may be transmitted to livestock according to research.

Control techniques include shooting, trapping, snaring and the use of specially trained dogs. But none of these methods have really worked. Moreover there are no registered toxicants or other products that can be used as toxicants to control feral hogs in the United States. Combirepel™ a product by C Tech Corporation can prove to be of use to combat the feral pig menace. Combirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous rodent and animal repellent which works by the mechanism of repellence. It acts on the olfactory sense of the target species and repels them from the application that needs to be protected. This product is available in the form of polymer additive masterbatches which can be incorporated in agricultural films, micro-irrigation pipes, etc during processing so that the end product will be able to successfully repel the target species. Combirepel™ can also be used in the automobile sector as it is available in the form of lacquer which can be applied in the form of coating on the cars or can be incorporated in the plastic body part of the car during processing. It can also be applied on fences and compounds to deter feral pigs from going there and causing damage. Thus Combirepel™ can go a long way in limiting damage caused by this extremely filthy and wild creature.