Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Birds or pesticides? Which would you choose to control pesky insects?

Scroll down to watch video of a downy woodpecker eating insects on bamboo

Poisonous sprays aren't the only way to prevent small sucking insects like mealybug, aphids and scale from damaging plants. Birds can eliminate insect infestations too.

As long as plants are not treated with noxious chemicals, birds like this female downy woodpecker will take care of plant-bothering bugs for you.

Female downy woodpecker feeding on miniscule insects

Mealybug, aphids and scale all excrete a sticky substance called honeydew that quickly becomes infected with the sooty mold fungus. Insect-eating birds like woodpeckers are attracted to this ready supply of food and will consume.

In the video below, watch how diligently this female downy woodpecker circles the stalk in order to devour as many tiny bugs as possible on this young shoot of Blue Timber (Bambusa chungii) Clumping Bamboo.

Since bamboo is such a fast-growing plant, it's able to outgrow any insect problem. Nonetheless, some people still insist upon using chemical controls. While there are products recommended for sooty mold, I prefer to let woodpeckers have at it. What about you?

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