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Rodents in the garden? Get an owl - 27 March 2008

How do you respond to pests in your garden? Do you get out a backpack with a high-pressure pesticide hose and blast them until they're dripping with poison?

"That's not the way to do it," says Tim Snow, the Endangered Wildlife Trust's chief of field staff. The effects of using pesticides can be highly detrimental.

Instead, pick up the phone and dial the newly established Kirchoffs Garden Protection Information Line.

They're like Ghostbusters for gardeners, but they advocate environmentally sensitive approaches, not indiscriminate massacres of all that's considered undesirable.

Urban environments are often heavily polluted by pesticides as people attempt to control or eradicate creatures like ants and cockroaches. But pesticides also kill beneficial creatures like ladybirds and wasps.

[Source: IOL

"Our gardens don't look like they used to. Butterflies are now a come-look Kodak moment. If there's a little bite on a piece of spinach, it's time to bring out the nuclear arsenal," said Kirchoffs MD Marlaen Straathof.

"We've got to get to the point where we slow down and enjoy our gardens. So what if they don't look perfect? We've got to leave something for our children," she added.

The hotline will help urbanites manage their green spaces without resorting to pesticides.

People can call and ask questions about any garden-management issues, such as how to get rid of rodents. According to Snow, owl boxes are the answer here.

"An owl catches something like 14 000 rodents a year. You'll have a permanent, resident rodent-control service," he says.

The hotline will be operated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust weekdays from 8am to 4pm. The number is 072-952-2552.

[Source: By Kanina Foss on IOL