Biological Control and Natural Predators
Residents can achieve many mosquito control benefits by providing habitat for natural predators. While adopting these methods individually will not yield sufficient control, they serve an important role and are effective when complimented with targeted mosquito larviciding.
Bat Conservation International, Inc. – Information on Bats for mosquito control http://www.batcon.org Search for keyword – mosquito
Local Manufacturer of Bat Houses
Eastern Canadian Bat Colonies
The Purple Martin
Largest and most beautiful of the swallows, the purple martin is often called “Man’s Best Friend”. Moving north each spring from their winter range in the Amazon Valley of Brazil, the martins spread over much of North America seeking bright, clean multiple-family dwellings.
Here they will spend the summer months; May, June, July, August and part of September building their nests, raising their young and entertaining their hosts with cheerful bubbling chatter and daylong flights of particular skill and grace.
Best of all, the martin’s diet is comprised of flying insects and can contribute as a passive control of biting flies. A single adult martin can eat as many as 2000 insects each day, many of them being mosquitoes. A colony of these delightful feathered visitors can aid in ridding lawns and gardens of many of these irritating flying insects daily.
Male martin scouts arrive early in May, and houses should be up no later than mid-June to get a colony started.
Getting a martin colony started is not easy. We are on the northern edge of their nesting range, so houses must be warm and dry with rooms built is recommended. In July, 1963, and 1969, cold wet weather nearly wiped out many colonies with poorly designed houses. Proper location, height and design are a must.
Once a group of martins adopt your martin house, you can expect the same birds to visit you year after year. The young as well as the older birds return and the colony will grow. Thus, it is important that your martin house be durable, warm and dry. The martins will make friends with you, and will be undisturbed by your normal activities around the house.
So invite the purple martins to spend their summers with you. You’ll enjoy their visits.
Purple Martin House Protection in Off Season
Houses should be taken down at the end of each nesting season, and observations made of the nesting success, or failure. This gives you an idea of the success of your colony. Remove nests and clean rooms, and kill any vermin that might be notices. It has been suggested that all nesting material be destroyed by fire, or incinerated. If the house is returned to the pole, the doorways should be closed in a manner that they can easily be opened on arrival of the martins in the spring. Repair any damage caused by the sun and weather. Be prepared for the Martins in the spring around the end of April or the first of May, this will depend on the season. NEVER decide to remove an established bird colony from its location, this can be very disastrous. Make sure your location is where you want it.
WARNING – Starlings and English Sparrows are a persistent nuisance and must be kept out of the Martin houses. They chase martins away. A martin house can be harmful to the community, if it is neglected and house Starlings and English Sparrows.
Parasites of the Purple Martin
The Purple Martin has five various parasites in te nest or on the bird:
I. Mall Ophaga (Chewing Lice)
II. Anoplura (Sucking Lice)
III. Fleas (small, dark amber colour)
IV. Mites (red-looks like miniature spider)
V. Blow-fly (Larva only)
The chewing and sucking lice live on the bird in their plumage. Fleas live in the nesting material. Mites live in the plumage of the bird. Blow-fly larva lives in the nesting material. All parasites feed on adults, and later off the nestlings. Blow-fly larvae feed on the nestlings only.
There is much to learn about the control of these pests. One method is to use one teaspoon of powdered sulfur to one teaspoon of 0.5% Rotenone in the nest. These products are obtainable at garden centers or pet shops.
Predators & Pests
Stray cats and dogs, squirrels and possibly raccoons in the animal world and house sparrows and starlings in the bird world, are the worst, possibly hawks and owls in the odd case. Every effort should be made to prevent these from bothering the martin colony.
It has recently been discovered and proven by wildlife expert Glen Dudderar of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute that starlings carry and distribute through their droppings two diseases, salmonella and histoplasmosis, both of which can cause severe illness and even death to humans. The most dangerous histoplasmosis is dropped into the soil by the starlings, matures into a spore-like fungus, then is picked up by the wind and carried to the lungs of the victims. The first symptom of the histoplasmosis is a cough, which later evolves into a flu-like condition and is followed by symptoms similar to tuberculosis. Many cities in the United States are spending large sums of money to control the starlings. So if you have starlings on your property or know where they are nesting elsewhere please take steps to eliminate these nesting places. Such action is in the interest of the health of our citizens and the well-being of the purple martin colonies in our area which are helping greatly to control mosquitoes.
The English Sparrow (Weaver Finch) also carries diseases, one of which is coccidiosis. This disease is fatal to poultry & other tame birds such as budgies & canaries. Contact with English Sparrows, their droppings or nesting material will usually result in death to a Budgie in less than ten days.