Natural Pest Control

Although I wouldn’t say that I’m an absolutely strictly organic gardener (I have been known to use synthetic products on occasion, sparingly) I’m certainly very conscientious about what I use, and prefer to employ natural pest control methods whenever possible.

My favourite insecticide is dihydrogen monoxide; yes, that’s good old H2O, preferably dispensed under high pressure.  This effectively squashes all sorts of soft-bodied insects (like aphids), or at least removes them from their hosts, thus reducing damage.  Repeated applications are very effective to control insect populations without leaving any smelly, toxic or beneficial insect repelling residue.

There is a pest that I’m having considerable trouble with in my new garden, and it’s just not practical to use my standard spray for this one…They keep flying away!

Natural Pest Control - photo courtesy photobucket

One of many ...

Beyond my back fence lays a wild and wooly greenspace, the subdivision in which I live is literally on the edge of wilderness, so there is a lot of wildlife.  The fences (and my dogs) keep the deer out of my back yard, and so far (fingers crossed) no bear has climbed into the yard to harvest from my garden, but the birds…oh…my…GOD!

photo courtesy photobucket

Starlings

The Audubon Society could film a documentary about avian diversity in my back yard, it’s amazing!  And I appreciate them, I really do, but I’m trying to grow some food back here, and sometimes it seems like the birds eat more of it than we do!

One of the dogs is bird-obsessed and will chase them untiringly, back and forth, with perennial doggy optimism that she will eventually catch one, but the dogs spend most of their time inside the house, leaving many dog-free hours for the birds to pillage and plunder my harvest.

Natural pests :)

Can you guess which dog is the bird chaser?

So I have a new strategy, a tried and true weapon against avian destruction.  I am proud to introduce you to the evil…Bellatrix!

Bellatrix

Bellatrix

Now I’m undoubtedly going to receive a few nasty emails educating me about disturbing my local ecosystem and how domestic cats are responsible for unwarranted carnage on a scale that’s threatening certain species of birds, but that’s okay, I have thick skin.

I’ve been observing the birds in my garden for three years now, and have yet to spot any endangered species.  In fact, most of the birds I see travel in very large groups, like starlings and robins.  The solitary types are, for the most part, raptors that are more likely to eat my cat than the other way around!

And Bella, as she is affectionately known, is just a kitten who may or may not grow up to be an effective hunter.  But if she does begin to deposit feathery carcasses on the steps I will not chastise her.  I just hope that she has the same ethics regarding hunting as I, namely; you kill it – you eat it!A natural predator

Even if she isn’t a successful hunter, I hope that her presence serves as a deterrent to the avian marauders.  The cages I had my dh build to cover the blueberries worked fairly well, but they devoured scads of raspberries, strawberries and grapes, along with assorted vegetables, usually at the just sprouted stage.

So far, it looks like Bella has the killer instinct.  She’s murderously attacking her toys, shoelaces, feet, the couch and any insects that stumble into view.  When she’s feeling particularly brave she even stalks and rushes the dogs, who are smart enough to be wary of those sharp little claws.

Bella the mighty hunter...in training

Bella the mighty hunter...in training

Hopefully by next spring she’ll be stalking and at least frightening away the birds that have been scarfing everything in my garden.  And I’ll have my own little natural pest control provider.

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About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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10 Responses to Natural Pest Control

  1. I love the picture of Lucy jumping, so cute 🙂

  2. Bella is a beauty. If she’s being fed well she won’t eat her kills, if she is able to kill a bird. She’ll probably deposit them near a door for you to find, though. Birds are tough for the average house cat to catch. However, she should be a reasonable deterrent to them congregating in the yard. Unless she gets lazy or the birds gang up and dive-bomb her, which they probably will. I’ve seen birds do that to cats.

    I guess the hyper golden retriever is probably the bird chaser? You should have gotten a Jack Rusell! They are completely tireless and could probably catch a bird!

    • hortophile says:

      I don’t know…my previous cat was well fed and he would still catch and eat birds, rodents, and once a bunny! All we would find of the birds was a puff of feathers, head and feet.

      A Jack Russell might be fun, but I can’t stand barky dogs, and most little dogs are yappers.

  3. barb19 says:

    Bella is gorgeous! Hopefully, even if she doesn’t hunt, her presence in your garden will keep the birds away from your produce – mostly.
    I love the pic of your two dogs, with the one in action, going to pounce!

  4. I think she is adorable and I am not even a cat person! Birds are pretty agile so she probably want catch that many but only scare them!

  5. Slowvelder says:

    Bella looks like she is so full of life – she is beautiful!

  6. I love the photos and your story line. You are an excellent writer and a gardener as well!
    Bellatrix is adorable

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