Q - We have a small pond and several Koi. The problem is
that we used to have MANY Koi. I occasionally see a Blue Heron at the pond and
I will shoo it away, but I think that is where our fish are going. Any ideas
how to discourage the heron without harming it?
Love reading your column,
Ann – La Porte
A - In many parts of North America, including beautiful La
Porte County, heron attacks are common. Heron are attracted to a pond’s clear
water, full of brightly colored fish. Interestingly, heron are generally shy
birds and usually visit ponds in the early morning or evening, when all is
Aside from the possibility of losing your fish, herons also bring
other problems to your pond fish, such as disease and stress.
a few effective ways to guard your pond from these predators:
a hiding space for your fish. Sink clay pots into the pond to provide a shelter
for your fish. If they’ve been attacked, they will know to go to this safe haven
when they spot a heron on the pond.
2. Many pond owners use netting to
cover their pond. Some do not like this method as it can be unsightly and
difficult to enjoy your pond fish. However, if your pond has experienced a heron
attack, netting can help in the short-term to deter future attacks.
For round-the-clock protection, consider a motion-activated sprinkler that
scares animals away with a short, startling burst of water. When it ripples
across the pond, the spraying water also obscures fish from sight, increasing
the chance for fish to evade predators.
4. I’ve also heard of people having some success merely by
hanging flattened sheets of tin foil from strings over or near the pond. The
‘fluttering’ and movement of the foil in the breeze will discourage the birds
from hanging around near the pond. I haven’t tried this one, but it’s certainly
an easy thing to try first.
A nontoxic way to get rid of insects
Q - I was wondering if there was a “green” way to get rid of
A - There are a number of nontoxic bug sprays on the market
today, and there is the old fly-paper rolls too. But there is also something
many people have never even heard of — Diatomaceous Earth or DE for
It’s actually the fossilized remains of microscopic shells. When
these remains come into contact with insects, it pierces their shells, so the
pests die by dehydration. However, when people touch DE, it’s as soft to the
touch as talcum powder and it’s nontoxic.
If you have ants or roaches, sprinkle DE around the foundation
of your home but not where ladybugs or other beneficial bugs live. Putting it
directly on ant piles is also effective. Then, sprinkle it in areas where ants
and roaches are most likely to enter your home. DE is also effective with slugs.
Just sprinkle it around the base of affected plants to create a rough barrier
the slugs will avoid.
There are few important things to remember when applying
Diatomaceous Earth outside. First, you can sprinkle it around with your hands
but to cover large areas, you may want to invest in a garden duster. You can
also use a spray bottle to apply a wet mixture (1/4 cup Diatomaceous Earth per
gallon of water) on plants. DE lacks killing power when it’s wet but is
effective upon drying again. Due to the powdery nature of DE, you will need to
reapply it after a heavy or prolonged rain.
Inside your home, apply DE to carpets and pet bedding to battle
fleas. Leave for an hour and then vacuum or launder.
Here’s another important note. Make sure you buy food grade DE.
The other kind of Diatomaceous Earth is widely used in swimming pools and it is
toxic. You can find food grade DE online, in health food stores, and home
improvement places. A five pound bag treats about 2500 square feet. And even
though it’s safe for people and pets, the dust can irritate lungs, especially
with prolonged exposure, so wear a mask if you have a big
BONUS TIP – This email reminds me of a remedy for flies that I
learned this summer and it’s definitely worth passing on, and it’s totally
“green” with no chemicals. If you have a problem with flies gathering around a
certain area, just hang a clear plastic bag half full of water in the area (and
in the sun if possible). Yeah, it sounds crazy…. but I’ve tried it and it
works. Apparently, the prisms of color formed by the water does something to
the fly’s eyes and they don’t like it. Let me know if you try it.
A PAINT’S LIFE
Q - Can I use 5 year old house paint?
Ed – La Porte
A - Most latex paints can be stored for 2 years without
risking deterioration; however, exposure to extreme heat or cold may shorten the
paint’s lifespan. If the paint has ever frozen, don’t use it. Also, avoid
painting with latex paint when the wall or ceiling surface temperature is above
90ºF or below 45ºF. And if you decide to use older paint, you may want to
strain it first to remove any dried bits of paint or chunks of rust from the lid
of the can.