Community Health Management

Organic Pest Management – Doing Things The Wrong Way

Evidence can be seen as far back as 100 years on how gardeners have been taught to control pests and disease using synthetic chemicals the effects of which were never thought of let alone predicted.

In the 1960′s Rachel Carson, in her book “Silent Spring”, brought to life the realisation that many pesticides are not selective and have become universal.

The problem with pesticides

Persistent “Bioaccumulation” through food chains and in air and soil have brought devastation to wildlife and humankind.

A move from stable organochlorine products like DDT, to organophosphorus substances that break down quicker, has only multiplied the number of substances we are exposed to, and slowed facing up to the key issues.

Using a no-selective compound means when predators of particular insect pests are killed by these “non-selective” products, the surviving pest populations continue to expand faster than they would if the predators were still alive.

Hence, the broadcasting of non-selective or “broad-spectrum” pesticides has always proved to be self-defeating.

This behaviour creates imbalances that tend to favour the pests. It also elicits pesticide resistance which increases over subsequent generations to the point a strong resistance becomes the norm.

Did you know this practice can mean a pesticide can become obsolete in just a few years?

Disposal of toxic by-products, and how it effects us

Improper disposal techniques for toxic by-products are only considered “after-the-fact”.

Waiting until after these toxins have contaminated landfill sites, whether the contamination was known or not, is often worse than known broadcast spraying.

Accidental leakage can occur from drums at temporary storage sites or where storage containers have become damaged.

These harmful chemicals have moved into water ways, into storm water systems and by indirect (leakage) and direct (blatant dumping) into our oceans and rivers. Our sea food then becomes the target, which in turn comes back to effect us through consumption.

The fruit and vegetables available at our supermarkets and fresh food outlets are often sampled and checked for pesticide residues. Rarely would this kind of test show zero or low levels of organochlorine compounds.

How constant use of pesticides makes the problem worse

Constant application of synthetic pesticide chemicals usually builds up a resistant strain of pests which the chemical was sprayed to eliminate.

This type of chemical resistance can be seen and proven in many areas including things like chemicals used to control infections in humans (anti-biotics) where we often see resistance build up over time.

Unfortunately regulations governing the use of pesticides are only increased after the damage is done.

Chemicals like this should be banned instead of being released, not restricted after “irreversible damage” is done.

Insecticides are just one of many chemicals used to control pests and disease “after the fact”. Fungicides and herbicides also thrive in a chemical dominant society, and average figures given in most research do not give a complete picture.

Heavy insecticide applications on crops, and what we can do about it

At the moment, growers are relying on heavy insecticide applications which provide an unsatisfactory level of control.

Synthetic pesticides are now, as in the past, being used excessively by commercial vegetable growers, and unfortunately due to varied pricing and farmers wanting to maximise their return, withholding periods are not always observed.

It is obvious to suggest what not to buy, and instead, grow for yourself. A clear message for us consumers is to not buy any fruits or vegetables at the beginning or the end of the season.

The ONLY way to be certain of avoiding the intake of pesticide residues is to grow your own food in total absence of pesticides.

From an organic point of view certifiable standards are available. There are several organic organisations providing guidelines.

In Australia, these include Biodynamic Agricultural Association of Australia (BDAAA), Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA), Organic Growers of Australia, and NASAA, National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia,

To some operators, the word “organic” is just another marketing game, but to others, it is a serious commitment.

It is generally considered most organic produce is more expensive, but you will be certain to save and ensure freshness by growing as much as you can in your own garden – this is not only much cheaper, but also much more rewarding for us.

Behaviour Psychology

Animals who mate for life

It’s not only humans that are monogamous. There are lots of creatures in the animal world who mate for life.

Some animals have been found to pine and die shortly after a death of a mate, which although sad, shows animals can love each other.

Here is a list of 10 animals who manage a monogamous relationship which many humans find impossible:

  1. Gibbons – These are reportedly the closest primate to humans and studies have proven that the relationship with their mates is also very similar to ours. Gibbons will sit for hours grooming each other (the equivalent to humans sitting on the sofa holding hands), and an established pair will remain faithful to each other for life.
  2. Swans – Often found swimming in pairs, occasionally with several babies in tow, swans have been used to symbolise romance and love on many valentine cards. However romance is not necessarily the reason swans mate for life. It might be a simple case of survival as they share the work of raising their young. The male can look for food whilst the female keeps the eggs and subsequently the chicks safe from predators.
  3. Black Vultures – A look that only a mother can love, or maybe another Black Vulture. There is a strong social structure within the Black Vulture community and any philandering by one of an established pair is swiftly dealt with by others in the group.
  4. French Angelfish – These beautiful creatures, once bonded, are rarely out of sight from one another and will feed, swim and hunt for food in their pairs. Although they are faithful to each other, they are not sociable and will not tolerate other pairs in their territory.
  5. Wolves – Contrary to popular believe a pack of wolves is not a random number of males and females, but a family of mother father and children. As they cubs grow, they too find their own mate for life and move on to form another pack. Packs can live quite closely to each other but do not form a firm bond, much like humans and their neighbours.
  6. Albatross – These birds do not live together, known to fly great distances, once they have bonded with a mate, they will always return to that same mate when it is time to breed. They are famed for their mating dance which is performed each time the pair are reunited.
  7. Termites – Who would have thought it? But this isn’t a warm romantic relationship, some species die shortly after mating, making the lifetime relationship very short indeed.
  8. Prairie Voles – Are the champions of the equal partner relationship. Sharing everything from child rearing to building a nest and hunting, prairie voles work together for the good of the family.
  9. Turtle Doves – Made famous by Shakespeare and are an emblem of love and romance which is celebrated every Christmas; Turtle Doves, once paired will rarely be seen alone.
  10. Bald Eagles – These birds remain monogamous for life but will take another partner if one dies. Even impotency will result in the female looking elsewhere.

This is not a comprehensive list of animals who mate for life, but it gives you an indication animals can be monogamous.


Interesting facts about animal sleep

For humans and animals alike sleep comes in two parts, REM and non REM (Rapid Eye Movement).

Non REM sleep happens when we are in a light sleep, and therefore even the slightest noise can wakes us.

As we slip into REM sleep we begin to dream and it becomes more difficult to be woken by outside influences.

To have a restful night’s sleep humans need to go through both of these sleep phases, animals however do not.

So how do animals have a good night’s sleep?

Here are some fascinating facts about the sleeping habits of our pets and other animals:

  • It will probably come as no surprise to cat lovers that cats sleep on average 13-14 hours a day. This leaves them fresh and alert for their night-time prowls. The same is true of cats in the wild, like lions and tigers who hunt at night.
  • Dolphins have the best of both worlds, only half their brain sleeps at any one time, so they can function perfectly even though they are also having an good night’s sleep. Dolphins do not experience full REM sleep.
  • Horses and Cattle are capable of sleeping standing up, but in doing so do not experience REM sleep. However, they do slip into REM sleep if they are lying down.
  • Giraffes need very little sleep, only minutes each day, and will take this rest standing up. They are known to lie down occasionally but this is to rest not to sleep. Giraffes will only do this if they feel very safe, because laying down puts them in an extremely vulnerable position if there are predators around.
  • A Desert Snail probably has the easiest life in the world because he can sleep for up to three years, and when he is awake he moves very little. A Desert Snail can live for up to 15 years, which means he spends a high percentage of his life asleep.
  • The Platypus spends up to 14 hours a day sleeping and spends more time in REM sleep than any other mammal. However, despite being asleep his body will “play out” the action of killing prey in order to deter predators. How clever is that?
  • African Baboons probably have the most uncomfortable sleeping position of all the animals so far – they sleep in the treetops on their heels.
  • Bats, as we all know sleep during the day and are active at night. Like their fictitious vampire counterparts, we all know bats sleep hanging upside down from eaves or branches in their roost. A lesser known fact, however, is why bats sleep upside down – it’s because they cannot take off and fly from a stationery position. Instead, they need to fall to fly which gives them the necessary lift to escape predators.
  • Ever wondered how an Albatross can travel so far? It’s because they’re able to sleep whilst flying.
  • The award for the most naps in a day has to go to your friendly Fire Ants. It would appear they never sleep, but studies have shown they have up to 253 power naps each day, each lasting little over 1 minute.

I hope you enjoyed those interesting facts about how animals sleep as much as I did.