Sunday, November 29, 2009

Organic Pest Control

Good morning,

I hope you all had a good weekend and had good enough weather to get out and into your garden. Today is the last day of spring and tomorrow is the first day of summer, so I will expect the weather to warm up significantly. It is only 12C here in Christchurch today! Brrrrr.

If you did get to work in your garden or do your season’s fly and spider proofing of your house, did you use organic products?

Many people are looking for ways to control pests around the house and in the garden with the least harmful and safest methods. Kiwicare is expanding its BioGro Certified Organic Range. The latest product to join the range is NO Caterpillars for the protection of vegetables and other plants from attack by the white butterfly caterpillars and others. NO Caterpillars is safe and effective and leaves your vegetables safe to eat, having no withholding period.

NO Ants Barrier is one of the most popular products in the organic range. It can be used to ring fence your home and prevent ants and other crawling insects from entering. It contains no insecticide, instead it is based on capsiacin obtained from chillies. Ants and other insects will avoid treated surfaces. You can keep ants out of your home and not use any insecticide.

There is an organic farmer,
Who only uses stuff that won’t harm her.
From the Kiwicare range,
She’ll never change.
‘Cause she’s bhuddist and it is just karma.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How many possums are there in New Zealand?

Hello again,

I have spent the last two days at the National Possum Control Agencies (NPCA) (now the National Pest Control Agencies Oct 2011) Technical Transfer conference in Wellington. This conference is an opportunity to hear about best practice and new developments in the control of possums. It is focused primarily on the control of possums for the prevention of the spread of bovine tuberculosis in farmed and wild animals.

This year there were many interesting presentations but the one that has received the greatest interest from the media was the guestimate of the number of possums in New Zealand.

Bruce Warburton of Landcare Research has used information on the estimated possum densities that a wide range of habitats from farm pasture to native beech forest could sustain. He has then used satellite GIS information on habitat type to calculate the maximum number of possums NZ could sustain. This gave a value of 48 million. Information on possum control and monitoring, the areas under control and other information were then used to estimate the reduction in numbers in controlled areas. This reduced the number in NZ to 30 million suggesting the $80 million spent each year has reduced numbers by 36%.

Bruce was at pains to explain that there were many variables in his estimates that could influence the numbers greatly one way or the other so these figures should be viewed as guestimates only.

Bruce was subsequently interviewed by sections of the media who I note have already reported the numbers as if they are absolute. They have also taken the new 30 million estimate and compared it to the old estimate of 70 million and suggested the numbers have been reduced by 40 million!

What is the old saying? ………lies, damned lies and statistics.

No one knows how many possums there are. Bruce has made a good stab at estimation and the number is probably not far away. What is important is that the benefits of possum control in those areas where they are controlled far outweigh the costs.

Kiwicare manufactures and distributes one of the tools for the control of possums in NZ. The NO Possums Cholecalciferol Gel Bait that can be purchased from all good farm stores, hardware and garden centres is one of the newer tools in preventing possums destroying the New Zealand environment, causing economic loss and eating your roses.

A possum goes into the Shakespeare Bar in Stratford. To get the barman’s attention he clears his throat.
The barman turns and asks “Tb or not Tb?”

Monday, November 23, 2009

Borer eating your home?

Good Morning Followers……….or should that be follower?

I have such an ‘interesting’ life. I am off to the National Possum Control Agencies Technology Transfer Conference in Wellington this evening. It will be two days of hearing about and talking about the best ways to stop possums damaging New Zealand’s environment and transmitting tuberculosis to cattle, deer and other animals.

1080 is a popular subject for discussion among delegates. Most of those in the industry would welcome an alternative if it was as cost effective or the money was forthcoming to use the more expensive options that already exist.

Kiwicare manufactures NO Possums Cholecalciferol Gel Bait which is a very novel bait. It will remain effective over long periods (up to 26 months) so that time spent replacing deteriorated bait is saved and control is maintained over extended periods. The gel formulation and use of choleclciferol (vitamin D3) as the toxin makes the bait unattractive and of low toxicity to birds. Cholecalciferol also has low eco-toxicity as it does not build up in the food chain reducing risks of secondary poisoning of scavengers. The bait is available for use by anyone wanting to control possums, even if it is only to stop them eating the roses in your garden or you want to protect the block of native bush on your lifestyle block. It does not require a licence.

Enough of possums! I was supposed to be talking about borer. A rather different type of pest problem. Borer (also known as woodworm) are small brown beetles whose larvae eat their way through soft timbers including our weatherboards, floorboards, joists and furniture. You will know you have a problem with borer if you see small holes (flight holes) in your wood as if someone had thrown a dart into the wood. These holes are where the borer beetle has emerged after 2-4 years as a larva. The majority of these holes will be found in dark areas where the humidity is higher, e.g. under the floor, inside the walls and in a roof space if there is a roof of concrete or terracotta tiles.

The good news is that you can easily stop the borer damage. Treat the timber. If the timbers can be accessed they can be sprayed or painted with products that kill the larva and prevent new infestation for many years. On painted, varnished or polished surfaces the flight holes can be injected. Even when the affected wood cannot be accessed at all the use of borer bombs can control the adults and slow down their re-infestation of the timbers.

I have often heard it said that a house has never fallen down due to borer damage in NZ. This might be true, but it is only because most houses are only now old enough to have been that heavily damaged (it takes at least 50 years) and houses are condemned before they fall down.

This is the flight season (November-February) when adult beetles emerge from the timers and this is when borer bombs are most effective. The other treatments are equally effective at all times.

Save your property. Act now.

One woodworm asked her boyfriend. “How’s life?” she asked.
“Same as usual,” he replied, “boring.”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Unpredictable Spring Weather

Good Morning from a cool Christchurch. Here at the head offices of Kiwicare the temperature at 10am is still in the low teens and I am regretting not putting my sweater on this morning. I didn’t bring it with me as I had seen the weather forecast and the high for the day is to be 28 degrees C. So the weather today is reflecting the variability of temperatures we have experienced this spring so far.

What implications has this had for pests in New Zealand? Insects are heavily influenced by temperature. When temperatures rise insects become more active and breed more quickly. We have seen flies, spiders, ants, cockroaches and other pests start to increase in numbers, but the cool interludes have slowed them down again each time. At least that seems to be the case in the South Island.

There is still time to get out and carry out a preventative treatment of your home or office. Stop insects plaguing you this summer. Prevention is always better than cure. Check out the Kiwicare website ( for specific information on how to control all sorts of insect pests.

I am able to analyse what visitors to the Kiwicare website have searched for when they visit. I follow the trends and have seen the biggest increases in searches relating to White Tail Spiders (or Whitetail or Whitetailed or White-tail…..spider) and Borer. I found a large female White Tail in my own house last week. It reminded me that I had not sprayed the house for spiders and insects since last spring. I carried out a treatment and this weekend, when doing my vacuuming and dusting chores, I found a number of dead White Tails. I used NO Bugs Super which is a long lasting and safe pyrethroid surface spray so there are no fumes in the air to breath in. NO Spiders would have been equally effective.

If you have any questions on spiders or other pests around the house or garden contact us at Kiwicare we will do our best to help you.

My next blog will tell you something about borer.

Little Miss Muffet,
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her.
So Muffet gave it a spray.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My first blog


Welcome to my first blog. I am starting this to answer questions that I am frequently asked regarding all sorts of issues with pests such as rats, mice, flies, spiders, cockroaches, aphids, weeds, possums, rabbits, moths, ants, fleas, bed bugs, caterpillars, carpet beetle, borer, …………..the list is almost endless.

I have worked for professional pest control companies in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. I now work for Kiwicare who are manufacturers and distributors of home and garden care products. This is a great Kiwi company that focuses on safe and effective products to keep your home and garden beautiful.

At Kiwicare we get lots of questions from people asking for advice. I hope this blog will go some way to informing you so that you can safely and effectively stay free from pest problems.

Please leave comments or ask me questions. I may not have the answer but I will do my best.

There once was a man from Belfast,
Who stood completely aghast.
At the size of the bug,
That came up the plug.
When it opened its wings and flew past.