Thursday, September 26, 2013

IPM House

After a decade in our "new" house, we have been rethinking a bit of the land management. Our 0.31-acre property is certified wildlife habitat and does draw an impressive diversity of critters, especially dragonflies, pollinators, and birds. But invasives were really crowding out the beneficial flora to the point that we recently hired a goatscaping crew, who removed most of ten years of random growth in as many days.
A human landscaper with organic-farming expertise has been working with us as well, as we move toward slightly more active management along the lines of permaculture, which would make the land productive both in ecological and culinary terms.
With his help, we have also -- at long last -- installed a bat house. Since it is in close proximity to the university, we hope that it can be part of a broader effort to encourage IPM -- integrated pest management -- as an alternative to aerial spraying for insect pests.

Aerial spraying has growing support as mosquito-borne diseases become more common as a result of climate change. A large slice of public opinion simultaneously endorses this blunt-instrument reaction to climate change while denying that the climate is changing. We know the climate is changing, and would prefer not to poison our way out of the consequences.

So in addition to better management of standing water, bat houses (and purple martin houses, which we also have) can be part of a more nuanced approach that will not kill beneficial insects and worms along with the pests. Bats love mosquitos, leaving all the other insects for the birds!

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