Posts Tagged ‘pests’

Some of my spruce trees are looking bad.  I’m not sure what’s causing the reddening of the buds or the needle damage.  Are these trees being damaged by insects or a fungus?  This would be an ideal time to be able to summon Doctor Bombay for assistance in finding a cure.  As I recall, he was able to cure a weeping willow on one episode of Bewitched and was quite an expert in his use of unconventional methods.

Calling Doctor Bombay!  Calling Doctor Bombay!  Emergency!  Come right away!

One of the spruces is especially affected.  I first noticed a few reddened buds a couple of years ago, but it’s looking worse and worse.  A few other spruces in the yard are affected as well.  Some of these trees also have twigs that are bared of their needles.  Once a tree is damaged in some way, it becomes vulnerable to a host of other diseases.

Could the culprit be the dreaded spruce budworm?  It attacks both firs and spruces throughout North America, damaging whole stands in the process.  First documented in Quebec in 1704, the spruce budworm follows a 35 year cycle.  It last peaked in Nova Scotia in 1976, which means that we’re due for an infestation. 

Forests are usually treated for spruce budworm with spraying.  However, if it is indeed worms that are attacking these buds, I’m wondering if there might be a more natural solution to the problem.  There must be birds that would find these worms tasty.  Also, the grey moths that are the adult stage of the pest are active in the evenings.  Could bats be helpful in controlling them? 

During the winter, the larvae hibernate in crevices on the twigs, waiting to awaken to a scrumptious breakfast of fresh new green buds in the spring.  I’ll be waiting for them.

Reference:  Natural Resources Canada 

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rock dove

What do you do when a dove decides to build her nest on your balcony?  Do you:

a.  Bring out the Fantastick and put a sparkle on the rails and plastic chairs

b.  Roll out the red carpet for pigeons and offer seed and bread crumbs, or

c.  Do nothing

Rock Doves, or pigeons as they’re more commonly known, are found in both the city and the country.  They are non-natives, introduced from Europe.  A flock of them used to hang out in my neighborhood years ago.  I’d often see them sitting on the gravel road or perched on a roof together. 

Though their iridescent feathers are attractive, pigeons are usually considered pests and often called ‘flying rats.’  Their droppings are highly acidic and when dried, contribute to the rusting of balcony rails and the steel girders on bridges.   

My sister, a seventh floor apartment dweller, found this loosely made nest one day in a flower pot she was planning to throw out…

dove eggs

By the time she had an opportunity to address the problem, the situation had advanced…

dove chicks

Her desire to throw out the container fizzled once she saw the chicks.  Though she had never fed birds on her balcony in the past, she wondered if she should start.  Certainly they’d be hungry.

Rock Dove chicks, like all baby birds, are carnivores.  They do not eat seed.  Also, if she was to start putting out food, she would be encouraging other pigeons to come and feed on her balcony.  I suggested that the most she do is offer some water in a shallow dish.  The mother, a seed eater, requires water to properly digest her food.

Once the chicks have matured and flown away, my sister can thoroughly clean the area if she doesn’t want a recurrence of the same event.  She’s noticed that using Fantastick spray on surfaces has discouraged pigeons from hanging out on her balcony in the past. A non-chemical alternative would be to use metal wires or spikes along the balcony rail, which would prevent the birds from roosting.

Photo credits:  Roxanne Kneer

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