Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Eco-friendly pest control

Install a JoJo owl house

One of the biggest threats facing farmers is rodent infestations that cause crop losses equalling millions of rands every year. It’s no better in our cities where both Cape Town and Johannesburg have already publicly declared a war on rats.

The ideal way to control rodent populations is to install an owl house.

Explains Rod Cairns, managing director of JoJo Tanks, “Controlling rodents through the use of conventional methods, such as poisons, are not only costly, but also have a huge negative impact on the planet and our eco-systems. Poisons compromise the quality of crops, local water supplies, and the population of desirable domesticated and wild animals and birds. The JoJo owl house offers environmentally conscious South Africans a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to get rid of rats in a way that does not harm the planet.”

The barn owl particularly takes to owl boxes very readily. The good news is that it is also one of the most successful and widespread predators on Earth and a single pair can consume over 2000 rodents a year. Barn owls are not as territorial as other raptors, so one can install numerous boxes throughout one’s property to effectively control the growing rodent population.

They also regulate their own breeding, in keeping with the rat population of a specific year. If there is a surge in rodent populations, they can breed up to 20 chicks, as there is so much food available. In years where the pickings are leaner, they lay fewer eggs, making them the perfect allies. Barn owls breed mainly from August to September in the Western Cape, and March to May elsewhere. The JoJo owl box is also suitable for spotted eagle-owls that will occupy the box if positioned around the perimeter of storage sites.

The JoJo owl box, a roto-moulded seamless unit, ready for installation, is manufactured from a low-density polyethylene. It is ultraviolet (UV) stabilised to ensure durability in the harsh South African weather and, like all other JoJo products, it carries an 8-year warranty.

Please note that the ideal height above ground is 4m. The nifty doorstep in the entrance to the box ensures that the eggs and chicks remain safely inside.

In built up areas, the owl box should be erected against the south facing or south-east facing side of buildings, preferably under the overhang of the roof.

The JoJo owl box can be installed by:
  1. Attaching it to a wall
  2. Placing it on a pole (pole base plate included)
  3. Affixing it onto a flat surface by cutting off the pole base plate and levelling the bottom surface.

Get a JoJo owl house today – it’s really the most sensible way to control rats.

Guidelines to encourage raptors and owls in assisting with rodent management:
  1. It is advisable to have a cleared area of at least 2m wide around the field with perches erected within the area.
  2. Perches for raptors should be made of 3m x 50mm gum or poplar poles, and be planted to have a height of 2.4m above the ground surface.
  3. Perches for owls can be shorter – 1.6m x 30mm gum or poplar poles that are planted to a height of 1.4m.
  4. For both perches, long sisal inflorescence stems may also be used to save on costs.
  5. No cross arms should be erected on perches as previous experience indicates that the birds prefer straight poles. Untreated wood is the best to use.
  6. To attract owls and diurnal raptors to the perches, it is advisable to scatter a few handfuls of crushed grain around the perches in the late afternoon. Gerbils will soon discover the food, and lure owls and raptors to the perches.
  7. It is advisable to remove barbed wire from fences where perches are erected in close proximity to fences as owls are often trapped by barbs when they try and perch on fences. This is particularly true for marsh owls, barn owls and spotted eagle-owls.

Compiled by Riana Greenblo Communications on behalf of JoJo Tanks