Geoff McCabe

Natural Predators as Allies on the Farm

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assassin-bugsHere I’m creating an ongoing article exploring the symbiotic relationship between our farm, and the natural creatures that live in the jungle around us. How can we help each other? What can we do to encourage the right type of critters to come to dine on the bugs and beasts that bother us?

The following are my notes and perhaps crazy ideas:

Bats: Bats eat huge quantities of mosquitos and bugs. Plus their fertilizer is better than gold for a farm. So far, our only interaction with bats is the VAMPIRE BATS that have been terrorizing our goats. I’d love to make some bat houses… that’s a good project for some volunteers to work on.

Wasps: There seems to be a type of wasp for everything. Ryan from the Mariposario told me that every type of caterpillar has a type of wasp that preys on it somehow. What can we do with wasps? More on wasps here: Using Wasps for Pest Control

Small Birds: Small birds can move at lighting speed through the bushes, eating insects and caterpillars. Perhaps we should find out what types of birds eat caterpillars and build some houses that they’ll live in.

Large Birds: Bird of prey, such as owls, hawks, and falcons, eat mice and rats and other unwanted vermin. They can also eat small chihuahaus and kittens if you’re not careful.

Snakes: Snakes are not only incredibly cool but they are the best friend of farmers because they don’t trample plants and they don’t eat anything we grow. They do, however, eat rats and mice. They can also eat small iguanas before they get too big. And unlike cats, they never get fat and lazy or cause allergies. The only problem with them is that if they get TOO big they’ll start eating your chickens, and they are relentless and unbelievably strong when they want into a cage. They can break into a chicken coop that can keep out just about anything else.

Assassin Bugs: The small red bugs shown in the photo above are very aggressive predators of just about any other type of insect. They look harmless enough, but they can snatch a wasp larger than themselves right out of the air. They can also deliver a painful bite to humans, as Yasmin once discovered. There are many of them here, and perhaps they’re already helping us every day, all the time by controlling bugs that would be eating our plants.

Ladybugs: The most obvious one is ladybugs, which are used to control aphids in the U.S. and other parts of the world, but they don’t live here. I’ve seen very similar bugs around, more yellow/gold in color and without spots, so perhaps a ladybug cousin is around, but I’ve never heard of anyone selling them in quantity, and am not sure if they even eat aphids. Plus, I haven’t seen any aphids either so maybe they’re not even an issue here.