PIGEONS- DOMESTIC BIRDS OR WINGED RATS?

Known by many as rats of the bird world, pigeons may be one of the most unloved birds around. Pigeons are a very common sighting, especially in cities and suburbs. They can usually be seen on roofs, dumps and city parks, where they are often fed by visitors. They are terribly annoying pigeonjuvenile_swan-620x413and often leave their mark on your roof by leaving you gifts of their unsightly pigeon droppings. Pigeons flutter and peck and flop on every available human living and working space they can find. In fact, pigeons are better adapted to urban streets and windowsills than gardens. It has been reported that pigeons cause tens of millions of dollars of damage every year to machinery, automobiles, roofs and ventilation systems. In fact, pigeon is supposed to be the single, most serious pest bird in the United States. Pigeon damages reported to Wildlife Services ranged from $198,209 to $6,412,725 per year!

Evidently, these pesky creatures can cause significant damage to structures in urban areas. Pigeon activity in and around a building may directly damage the structure by lifting roof coverings to force an entry. More seriously, they are known to block rainwater drainage systems with their faeces and feathers. This could result in massive water leakage and severe decay problems. Warehouses, in particular, may experience great damage, even collapsed roofs, when drainage systems are blocked and standing water is forced to rise. This is because iuhbird droppings contain uric acid, which, at a pH of 3 to 4.5, can eat through most of the building materials. A collapsed roof could put a company out of business, cause serious physical damage or even result in death. Also, these birds may build nests in chimneys and ventilation systems which could effectively block airflow to the building. People can be killed by carbon monoxide poisoning when bird nests block the exhaust system. Besides, the nests are usually flammable as they are made up of twigs, straw and dried droppings. Nests constructed on or near electric machinery pose a severe risk of fire hazards. Thus bird droppings and nesting materials may be a huge cause of concern if they are not corrected immediately and allowed to accumulate.

The presence of feral pigeons and most importantly their faeces represents a potential health hazard to the general public. These annoying birds are known to be carriers of a number of life-threatening diseases including salmonellosis, psittacosis and pseudo-tuberculosis. The faeces of pigeons provide an ideal environment for bgthe growth of the organisms causing several such diseases. Pigeon droppings are thus a huge problem in places where large accumulations have been allowed to build-up. Dealing with such accumulations can be expensive and time consuming because of the protective equipment and procedures that may be required for its maintenance. The presence of faeces on walkways and ledges leads to slippery roads which may pose a serious risk of accidents if not taken care of at once. An apprentice elevator mechanic obtained a $2.7 million settlement from a property owner after bird droppings caused him to slip and fall down an elevator shaft!

Let us look at this article published in the Southern Courier.

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  Pigeons collapse ceiling on sleeping residents

The ceiling was home to a flock of pigeons that caused the damage as they forced their way inside the roof.

By James Mahlokwane and Lucky Thusi | 8 May 2014

SOUTH HILLS – Five family members and one pregnant lady from South Hills were woken by a shocking sound of a ceiling falling in on the morning of Monday May 05 at around 03:00.

The ceiling fell inches away from the pregnant lady and two young men who were sleeping on the bed and sofas in the room.

The ceiling was home to a flock of pigeons that caused the damage even after repairs as they forced their way inside the roof.

Vivian de Villiers (55) had to evacuate her children out of the flatUntitledimmediately. They stayed outside their flat from 03:00 while other tenants slept.

“My son did not go to school today because of what happened. The furniture is ruined and I do not see us using them again, because they are infested by pigeon lice.

“The whole Tornaka Court building needs to be fixed, especially the top block. Our next door neighbours also have ceilings breaking and falling,” said DeVilliers.

ANC councilor Bev Turk said she has advised Housing about the state of the flats and they are now aware of it and would try to eradicate the problem.

The De Villiers family said they would appreciate it if people could donate a ceiling, TV, beds and sofas to them at 27 Tornaka Court, Outspan Road, South Hills.

“We would be happy if we could get an electrician to come help us with the wiring. Anyone who could help fumigate the flat to kill the pigeon lice would also be appreciated,” said Rene de Villiers.

It has been reported that the management costs associated with pigeon control are $9 per bird per year! This highlights the importance of control of these birds to avoid significant problems related to building management and maintenance and health hazards. However, the control techniques used today are often inappropriate or misapplied with the result that they are ineffective. This is not a grave issue as tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars can be spent on techniques of pigeon control which eventually fail. This is because these creatures are able to adapt over time to circumvent most measures. Pigeons are graceful creatures and an integral part of our eco-system. Hence, killing of such birds would have a profound impact on the environment. This calls for a safe and environment-friendly modus operandi to deal with the damage caused by pigeons.

C Tech Corporation offers a non-toxic, non-hazardous means of averting these birds. Combirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous, eco-friendly rodent and bird aversive. This product works by repelling the birds; it causes no harm to the bird or the surroundings. It is available in lacquer form which can be used to coat wood and other polymeric surfaces. Thus it can be applied on pipes, roof panels, heritage structures and statues to inhibit any bird activity near it. It is also available in the form of masterbatch and liquid solutions which can be incorporated in a wide range of applications. This eco-friendly product would surely clear the way for absolute harmony between mankind and birds!

Pine Marten creating ruckus in Europe and USA

Pine martens are elusive members of the weasel family and sport a tumblr_m1pef4axov1roj0ebo1_500_2creamy yellow throat bib and a magnificent long thick tail. They are generally found in the European continent and America. The European pine marten is commonly known as the pine marten in Anglophone Europe, and is also recognized as pineten, baum marten, or sweet marten. In America, they just referred to as American Marten.

Their habitats are usually well-wooded areas. European pine martens usually make their own dens in hollow trees or scrub-ertcovered fields. Martens are the only mustelids with semi-retractable claws. This enables them to lead more arboreal lifestyles, such as climbing or running on tree branches, although they are also relatively quick runners on the ground. They are mainly active at night and dusk. They have small rounded, highly sensitive ears and sharp teeth for eating small mammals, birds, insects, frogs, and carrion. They have also been known to eat berries, bird’s eggs, meat, nuts and honey.  Pine martens are territorial, and mark their range with faeces (scats) deposited in prominent locations.

mapeu_2The pine marten has a wide distribution in the Palaearctic, being found throughout most of Europe, Asia Minor, northern Iraq and Iran, the Caucasus, and in westernmost parts of Asian Russia. It is widespread in continental Europe, with the exception of most of Iberia and Greece, and parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. It was formerly widespread in the British Isles, but is now restricted to northern Britain and Ireland.

The habit of this pine marten to prey on bird has become an issue of concern as they have become a major threat to capercaillie.

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Pine martens blamed for fall in number of capercaillie

Friday 27 September 2013

SCOTLAND’S gamekeepers are warning that the capercaillie is doomed unless conservationists advising Government agencies protect the birds from natural predators such as the pine marten.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) says that despite an assurance by First Minister Alex Salmond the Capercaillie would not be allowed to “die on his watch”, keepers fear its disappearance is perilously close.While individual birds exist in fragmented pockets, the only remaining viable breeding population is in Badenoch and Strathspey.

download_2The SGA says it warned 12 years ago predation by pine martens, foxes and crows would imperil the largest member of the grouse family. The SGA claims a scientific study in 2009, using cameras at 20 nests, showed predators destroying 65% of those nests in Abernethy Forest, part of a reserve run by RSPB Scotland in Badenoch and Strathspey.

Of those destroyed, 57% were proven to be by pine martens which, like the Capercaillie, areprotected but more numerous.Members of the Scottish Government’s Biodiversity Action Plan (Bap) group for Capercaillie had acknowledged the need for a trial removal of pine martens from core areas to assess the problem.

However so far, no research licence has been granted and gamekeepers represented on the group fear conservationists are running scared of making the tough decisions required to prevent the bird becoming extinct.Allan Hodgson, who sits on the Bap group, said: “If all the right things are done, there is still a good chance we could save the capercaillie. However, there needs to be some hard decisions taken and some bravery from the Government and those advising it when it comes to dealing with the pine marten issue.”

Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, agreed urgent action was required to help save capercaillie in Scotland, and the role of the pine marten considered. But both species were scarce and protected under wildlife laws, he said. He thought it was much too early to embark on a trial removal without considering other options such as increased deer reduction measures, deer fence removal to reduce mortality of capercaillie through fence strikes and diversionary feeding.

He said: “It is also hugely important to remember that in other countries, such as Sweden, capercaillie and pine marten live side by side, where predation occurs, and neither species is endangered. Levels of predation of capercaillie by pine martens recorded by RSPB Scotland at Abernethy are similar to Sweden and elsewhere on the European continent.”

Ron Macdonald, Scottish Natural Heritage’s head of policy and advice, said: “We published two reports in 2011 which looked at this subject. One did not find a direct link between pine marten numbers and capercaillie breeding success. The other found a link when the effects of weather were also taken into account. So the ecological situation is complex.”

He said two key measures of capercaillie productivity – “chicks per hen” and “broods per hen” -were lower when April was warmer and in forests with more signs of pine martens and more crow sightings. “We are keen to take forward research into the role of predation alongside the effects of land use and climate,” he said.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our agencies are committed to ensuring its long-term survival.”

The pine martens are known to attack humans. “Football player bitten by affronted Pine Marten on the pitch”, reported by the Telegraph.

They  have been also known to chew rubber and soft plastic parts e.g. windscreen wipers, garden hoses, etc., often those of parked cars, ostensibly to sharpen/clean their teeth, though the exact drive for this behavior is not known, and they do not actually ingest the rubber; damage to brake cables is a particular hazard. In rural areas it is not uncommon for wire fencing to be placed on the ground under parked cars or dog musk or other natural repellents to be sprayed under the car hood to avoid the martens. But these methods are obsolete and hence they are not an effective solution for the marten problem.

An irate car owner in Germany reported the following after facing the marten problem

It’s Marder time, lock away your cars! – Germany

post-15-1177494726“Well, it’s that time of year again.
People who are new in Germany or don’t own a car will not know what on Earth I am on about.
The “Marder”, or in English, a “
Pine Marten“, is a vicious little mammal that enjoys chewing on hot rubber or plastic. To prevent these animals getting into your car’s inner bits and bobs it’s recommended that you park your car in your garage. Other preventative methods are to place rolled up mesh wire under the engine compartment of your car.
It may well be worth looking at your insurance to see if you are covered for Marder damage.
See the photo for what they look like. Take care out there!”

Well no insurance company is going to provide insurance for damages done by the likes of pine marten!  So what is the solution out of this problem?

Hunting and killing them is definitely not an option as hunting of the animals banned in almost all countries. And also this species are economically important and add value to our flora and fauna.

So to stop the martens from causing any damage without harming them; Combirepel™ is a perfect solution. Combirepel™ is a product by C Tech Corporation which is non-toxic, non-hazardous product. It is an additive available as masterbatch specially developed for a range of polymeric and coating applications including films, wires and cables. It can be used for a number of applications including agricultural films, tarps, pipes, plastics, ducts, tubing and hosing, wires and cables, railways, aviation, mulches and the automobile sector. It is also available in lacquer form which can be coated on the surface of the application to keep the rodents away. It can also be applied on the fence around the capercaillie farm.

 

 

Beetles damaging potato plant!

Haldane discussed the prevalence of stars and beetles in his book “What is life?” published in the 1940s;

_69607665_thinkstock106564984“The Creator would appear as endowed with a passion for stars, on the one hand, and for beetles on the other, for the simple reason that there are nearly 300,000 species of beetle known, and perhaps more, as compared with somewhat less than 9,000 species of birds and a little over 10,000 species of mammals. Beetles are actually more numerous than the species of any other insect order. That kind of thing is characteristic of nature.”

One among the 300,000 species is Colorado potato beetle. An adult Colorado_potato_beetle_lgbeetle is around 10mm long and is orange or yellow with black or brown stripes. The beetle’s main food is potato leaves – a single larva can eat 40 sq cm of leaf per day.

The pretty yellow-and-black-striped Colorado potato beetle is native to wild Solanaceous plants of the semi-arid western United States. Colorado beetles are a serious pest of potatoes.. Both adults and larvae feed on foliage and may skeletonize the crop. . The problem with it began when the beetle broadened its gustatory interests to include cultivated plants in the same family, such as potato, eggplant, and tomato.

Going through the life cycle of the Colorado potato beetle, in late kg26-colorado-potato-beetle-01_lgsummer, Colorado potato beetles fly to nearby wooded areas and overwinter beneath bark or other cover. In mid-spring, they emerge and walk until they find potatoes or another suitable host plant. After a little light feeding, mated females lay clusters of orange eggs on leaf undersides. The eggs hatch about two weeks later, and the larvae feed for a couple of weeks before entering their pupal stage. In cool weather the entire life cycle can take 45 days or more, but 30 days is more typical. This means that a second generation can emerge at the perfect time to sabotage midseason potatoes.
Fig2BColorado potato beetle causes heavy monetary damages. The article named “Last Meal for Colorado potato  beetle?” in USA Agriculture department gives the estimate of the economic loss due to the species, “The pest’s larvae devour the leaves of eggplant, tomato and potato plants, causing $150 million annually in crop losses and chemical control expenses”

The problem of Colorado potato beetle is mentioned in yet another article,

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Some Growers Say Potato Beetle Becoming Intractable Problem

15.07.2013

Anecdotal evidence suggests the Colorado potato beetle has increased its range in Estonia, and some farmers say the situation is dire, especially as the state declassified the colorful bug as a dangerous pest in 2011.

With potato fields flowering, ETV reported on one Saaremaa island field where the beetle had not been seen before, but which is experiencing a major infestation.

220px-Potato_beetle_larvaeOfficially, the farmers are advised to manually pluck the larvae and repeat every day, and only resort to pesticides for larger infestations.

There are some areas of Saaremaa where the beetle is well-established and can’t apparently be eradicated, farmers said.

Aadu Grepp, one farmer, said that beetles could be found on every fourth or fifth stalk in his fields.

“You have to spray with some toxin at the right time to get rid of it. In a couple days, it will eat a plant, leaving just a stalk.” He said it had been that bad for two or three years. “The bug hatches from the soil and and there’s nothing to do, the only cure is chemicals. There’s so many and it will return in a week or so.”

Grepp sprays his fields several times a year and said some Leisi growers had stopped planting potatoes.

The areas on Saaremaa affected tend to be on the coasts, as the adult beetle gets an assist from the wind. The biggest potato grower on the island, Guido Lindmäe, who has 22 hectares in the interior, says he yet to see a live beetle.

Opinions vary on whether the mainland is worse off. The Crop Research Institute’s Luule Tartlan says it is worse, while the Agricultural Board says that the potato beetle has ceased to be considered a dangerous pest as of 2011.

220px-Kartoffelkaefer_fg01eThe Colorado potato beetle have shifted from its original wild hosts in southwestern North America, it has spread throughout the rest of the continent and has invaded Europe and Asia. Currently its distribution covers approximately 14 million km2 around the world. It has also started appearing in central Asia, western China and Iran. They have started appearing in new regions because of heavy export from the infected area.

Insecticides are currently the main method of beetle control on 78commercial farms.Colorado potato beetle has a legendary ability to develop resistance to a wide range of pesticides used for its control. Plants in the family Solanaceae, which are natural food sources for this insect, have high concentrations of rather toxic glycoalkaloids in their foliage. These toxins protect them from a wide range of herbivores. However, the Colorado potato beetles evolved an ability to overcome toxic defenses of its hosts. Apparently, this ability also allows them to adapt to a wide range of human-made poisons. Also, high beetle fecundity increases the probability that one of the numerous offspring mutates, just as buying 800 lottery tickets increases probability of getting a winning one compared to buying 8 lottery tickets.

Resistance mechanisms in the Colorado potato beetle are highly diverse even within a relatively narrow geographical area. Furthermore, the beetles show cross-resistance to organophosphates and carbamates, and multiple resistances to organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids.

The immune powers of Colorado potato beetle have forced humans to look for solutions above the hazardous insecticides. C Tech Corporation provides a solution Combirepel which is very effective, long lasting and Green. The most important unique quality of the product is that it is non-toxic, non-hazardous and environment friendly. Combirepel™ helps keep termites, ants and 500 other species at bay and protects the application. They can be incorporated in agricultural films, mulches and irrigation pipes to protect the crops from the vicious pests. The product is available in the form masterbatch as well as liquid solution and is compatible with most the base polymers. The most important quality of the product is that it does not kill the target species but repels them.