Natural predators have been around much longer than the human race. Yet, have we forgotten the valuable way we worked with our friends from years pasts? Ask any farmer who has come from generations of farmers and it is most likely they will repeat what has been handed down for thousands of years. “Lady bug, Lady bug fly away home…your house is on fire and your children will burn.” This was an ancient rhyme “warning” the lady bugs the old crops after harvest would soon be burned. A barn owl is among the many natural predators that have been introduced back into the natural order of things as available, natural exterminators.
Near Lodi, California, the barn owl is being allowed to do what it has done for 80 million years: hunt down and eat rats. The barn owl is the perfect employee. It doesn’t cost any wages. Never takes a day (or night) off. And it loves to work, hunting down every mouse or rat its talons can grab. Our modern day agri-warriors are returning to what our “naturists” have always known: let nature do her work. She knows what she is doing.
In general, all birds have been a help. They eat most insects, webworms and snails. All are natural predators to your backyard gardens or flower beds. Easiest way to keep them under control is to attract those who prey on them. Set up a birdhouse. Put in a bird bath. Heck, if it would help, put in a little clubhouse where they can get together at the end of the day to chirp away the day’s events. After all, who makes a better neighbor? A bird or a slug?
Before the tales of Rudyard Kipling, the mongoose has long been known as the cobra’s natural predator. This cute little furball is ferocious when it comes to the dreaded King Cobra that has haunted India since long before we came along. The poisonous snake knows too well the threat the mongoose poses to them. All I know is if I ever saw a cobra coiled up in my backyard, I would invite every mongoose I could find over for dinner.
Dogs have been trained to sniff out explosives and drugs. Why not bed bugs? Lately, more and more dogs have been recruited and trained for pest extermination to locate these little pesty pests. They have even begun to be trained for termites. Who “nose” what else these helpful canines can sniff out? What does a politician smell like?
These furry little friends have been helping themselves to our problems with mice for centuries. From Tom of Tom and Jerry fame to ancient Egypt, cats have been encouraged to keep the “meeces” at bay. Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians started it all by elevating the cat to a godlike status. They encouraged the local cat population to feed on mice and rats to protect the grain collected from harvest. Until their recruitment, most of the grain stored for the winter would fall into the hands (and mouths) of the mice, rats and worse. The cat was discovered to be the perfect natural predator. In return for their bountiful help, cats were protected and worshiped for their simple solution to a major problem of hunger during the lean months. Anyone discovered to be a threat to a cat, curried the death sentence. The Egyptians took their pets seriously. Cat owners are paying for it today.
Even ants are being used to control pests on organic farms!