Psylla lice in colonies wiped out ipil-ipil in the countrty in the seventies.
“In ethno-science and ethno-medicine, little was recorded, and the little was framed in the context of "superstition." So the arbularyo, the hilot were regarded by the culturati and intelligentsia as residues of the dark side of primitive life.”
Florentino H. Hornedo, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy, University of Santo Tomas;
Philippine Cultural History Commissioner,
UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines
1. Scarecrow – friend and foe.
Love that scarecrow (banbanti Ilk.). It is folk art on the farm. In the middle of the field it feigns scary to birds, what with those outstretched arms and that mysterious face hidden beneath a wide brim hat. There it stands tall amid maturing grains, keeping finches or maya birds (Lonchura Malacca jagori and L. m. formosana) at bay. Finches are widely distributed in Asia and the Pacific feeding on rice grains, and alternately on weed seeds, but now and then they also steal from the haystack (mandala) and poultry houses. They are recognized for their chestnut colored compact bodies, and sturdy triangular beak designed for grain picking and husking. The scarecrow also guards against the house sparrow, mayan costa (billit China Ilk.), including the loveable turtle dove or bato-bato (Streptopelia bitorquata dursummieri), all grain feeders.
A scarecrow is usually made of rice hay shaped like a human body wrapped around a T-frame. It is simply dressed up with old shirt and hat. The idea is to make it look like the farmer that the birds fear. There is one problem though. Birds, like the experimental dog of Pavlov (principle of conditional learning), soon discover the hoax and before the farmer knows it a whole flock of maya is feasting on his ready-to-harvest ricefield. It is not uncommon to see maya birds bantering around – and even roasting on the scarecrow itself!
Today the scarecrow is an endangered art. In its place farmers hang plastic bags, or tie old cassette and video tape along dikes and across the fields. These create rustling or hissing sound as the wind blows, scaring the birds. Others use firecrackers and pellet guns. At one time I saw a lone scarecrow in the middle of a field. On examining it closely, I found out that it was made of a mannequin dressed the way the fashion world does. It reminded me of the boy who discovered the statue of Venus de Milo in a remote pasture in Greece. On another occasion I saw balloons and styropore balls hanging in poultry and piggery houses, bearing the faces of Jollibee, Power Puff Girls, Batman, Popeye, Mr. Bean and a host of movie and cartoon characters. Interestingly I noticed that the birds were nowhere to be found.
When I told my friend, an entomologist, that these new versions of the scarecrow seem to be effective, he wryly replied, “Maybe there are no more birds left.” Suddenly I remembered Silent Spring, a prize winning book by Rachel Carson. The birds that herald spring had died of pesticide poisoning.
2. Old folks use garlic as insecticide.
Garlic is useful as an insecticide by planting beside crops you intend to protect, and by making a spray solution from its cloves. The simple method is to soak crushed garlic cloves in water and then spray or sprinkle the solution on plants attacked by aphids, mites, caterpillars, and other pests.
Nest of green tree ants; members of the colony subdue a wasp. h
This is another method. Soak approximately 100 grams of chopped garlic cloves in about 50 ml of mineral oil (turpentine or kerosene) or cooking oil for 24 hours. This is then slowly mixed with 500 ml of water in which 20 grams of powdered natural soap (Perla or Ivory) has been dissolved. Soap serves an emulsion, that is, to make oil and water miscible. Stir well and strain with an old undershirt or nylon stocking, then store the filtrate in earthen or glass container. This serves as mother stock, ready for use, diluting it one part to twenty parts of water, or down to one part per hundred. It is reputed to be effective insecticide against most common garden pests.
3. Control common insect pests with red pepper (siling labuyo).
These are the ways old folks make use of red pepper or siling labuyo (Capsicum annuum) in controlling destructive insects.
· To protect mungbeans from bean weevil (Callosobruchus maculatus), thoroughly dry some 8 to 10 ripe labuyo and place them in a tea bag. Place the bag inside the glass jar or plastic container in which mungbean is stored. Cover hermetically. Effective protection against the pest is from three to six months. Just be sure the mungbean is well dried (14 percent moisture) before storage.
· When spraying garden plants, crush 5 to 10 pieces of ripe labuyo in one gallon of water (5 liters), and apply the solution with sprinkler like watering the plants. Repeat every week until there are no signs of insects and other pests in your garden. You may add a pinch of powder soap, preferably natural soap (Perla) Note: Don’t apply on tomato, eggplant, potato, tobacco and pepper itself. These belong to the same family – Solanaceae – and may be affected by the mosaic virus the labuyo may be carrying. Use it instead on other plants.
4. Ants on the move means that a strong rain, if not a typhoon, is coming. Cockroaches come out of their abode and seek for shelter outside.
The biological clock of these creatures responds to invisible signals, which comprise decreased atmospheric pressure, high relative humidity and air temperature. Their sensitive antennae and tactile hairs covering their body pick these up these changes of the environment. Thus we find ants in exodus, they move as a colony carrying their eggs and young indoors. Cockroaches become unusually active, flying about in frenzy, in search for a new place. There is a common message, that is, to escape to safer ground, an archetype ingrained in their genes passed on to them by their ancestors through evolution.
5. Light trapping of insects.
At the onset of the rainy season old folks trap winged termites (gamugamu or simutsimot) with a torch or a Coleman lamp placed at the center of a basin of water. The swarm may come early or late at night. In the morning the trapped insects are harvested and cooked into a delicacy. Fowls, house lizards, frogs and toads have their fill during the swarming period. The main species of termites that compose local swarms are Macrotermes gilvus and Heterotermes philippinensis, which build anthills (punso) in the field. The dry wood termites are smaller and darker in color.
IRRI lately realized the importance of light trapping techniques under the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program against insects attacking the rice plant.
· Army worms (Spodoptera mauritia, S. litura) and cutworm (Mythimna separata) moths, both are highly attracted to light traps, especially during a new moon.
· Rice gall midge adults (Orseolia oryzae) are also attracted to light traps, but their numbers are highest during the full moon. So with plant hoppers (Delphacidae) and leafhoppers (Cicadellidae and Meenoplidae).
· Other insect pests attracted by light are the adult moth of the green hairy caterpillar (Rivula atimeta), green semilooper moth (Naranga aenescens), rice caseworm (Nymphula depunctalis), and rice bug (Leptocorisa acuta).
· Mole cricket (Gryllotalpha orientalis), June beetle (Leucopholis irrorata), both are also delicacies in many parts of Asia and Africa are also attracted by light.
The idea of light trapping is to capture the adult insects, especially the gravid female about to lay hundreds of eggs that hatch and cause widespread infestation. It eliminates the hazards of using pesticides so that the edible insects may serve to augment nutrition in the countryside.
6. Try these old folks’ ways of dealing with insect pests.
· Lantana (Lantana camara) is planted along field borders and fences to repel insects from destroying field crops.
· Makabuhay is chopped and scattered in the rice field to control golden kuhol and insect pest.
· Ground seed cotyledon of botong (Barringtona asiatica) is used as fish poison. It is applied in fishponds to rid remaining fish before it is stock anew with fingerlings.
· The sap of tubang bakod (Jatropha curcas) is used to control Schistozomiasis snail (Oncomelana quadrasi)
· Eucalyptus trees around the house keep off flies and mosquitoes. The menthol smell of Eucalyptus adds freshness of the air.
· Garlic and onions inter planted with garden crops reduces incidence of pests.
· Black pepper in teabags is safer than naphthalene balls in protecting clothes and books, including piano felt linings.
· In capping (sealing) earthen jars, use clay from anthill (punso). Because the material is actually the excrement of termites, this will discourage them from attacking the cap and content of the jar.
7. Try also these old folks’ ways of dealing with destructive animals.
· To prevent goats from biting the trunk of trees, make a slurry of white latex paint mixed with goats’ urine and feces, and paint it all around the trunk around one and one-half meters high.
· Goats are often left stray in the village. To be sure they don’t get through the fences of neighbors, they are restrained by a triangular hame made of bamboo worn around the neck, which can be conveniently attached or removed. The whereabouts of the animals is monitored because the hame may get entangled with wire or get stuck in the fence itself.
· Construct an incline piece of wood (2” x 2”) over an empty barrel. Hang at the end bait like a fishing line. The bait attracts rats so that they fall into the barrel. Gather and dispose the trapped rats by first killing them with boiling water.
· Monitor lizards (bayawak) are caught by an ingenious devise made of bamboo. A sturdy and flexible bamboo is forcibly bent across the path of the animal. When it comes, attracted by the bait, which is a live chick, the trigger mechanism releases the bamboo sending its full force to break the back of the lizard.
· Wild fowls are trapped by woven baskets with one side tilted by a post. On entering, the post collapses trapping the fowls inside the basket. This is also used when catching domestic fowls. NOTE: This technique may not work after sometime since the fowls may soon learn to evade the trap. (Pavlov’s conditioning)
8. Tubang Bakod (Jatropha curcas) is an effective mollusicide
Farmers chopped the fresh leaves and shoots and apply it directly in ricefields to control golden snail (Pomacea caniculata), a major pest of rice and other crops.
When I was assigned to supervise a reclamation project in Sab-A Basin in Leyte, a schistozomiasis infested swamp, I found out that J. curcas ia effective in controlling Oncomelana quadrasi, the snail vector of the parasite. One disadvantage though is that it is also poisonous to fish. The application is more effective in the presence of water because the active ingredients among which is saponin, is readily dissolved and spread in the paddy or waterway.
Tubang bakod is a small tree that grows along hedges and fences for which it got its name. It belongs to Family Euphorbiaceae to which cassava and castor bean belong. The fruits are in cluster, and each fruit is made of three seeds arranged for dehiscence when matured and dried. The seed is rich in curcas oil which has drastic purgative effect when taken in, for which reason children are warned from eating them.
9. Poultice made of ground termite is effective in treating wounds and sores.
After digging out an anthill or termite mound, the soldier termites (large headed) are carefully gathered, and ground into a paste which is then directly applied on the wound or skin sore. In some parts of Africa, the United Nations for successfully treating thousands of residents in remote desert communities using the same ethnic remedy hailed a village healer (equivalent to our herbolario). Laboratory tests revealed that termite poultice contains antibiotics more potent than commercial antibiotics.
10. Lighted candles drive flies away.
Houseflies (Musca domestica) are the most popular uninvited guests during a party, especially if it is one held outdoor. Before they build into a swarm, light some candles and place them strategically where they are most attracted. Candle smoke drives away houseflies and blue bottle flies (bangaw), keeping them at bay until the party is over. For aesthetic reason, make the setup attractive by using decorative candles and holders, especially one that can withstand a sudden gust of wind. Otherwise, just plant a large candle or two, at the middle of the serving table. If your guests ask what is this all about, blow the candle out momentarily and they will understand.
11. Hang a fresh branch of a tree or shrub near lighted bulb or lamp to keep midges (gamu-gamu) away from food and guests.
Have you ever been pestered by tiny insects that are attracted by light during an outdoor dinner? These insects make a complex population of leafhoppers, mayflies, and other species of midges. Winged termites and ants often join the swarm. They are most prevalent at the onset of the rainy season in May or June and may last until the rice crop is harvested. In the province this is what you can do to control them and save the dinner party.
Cut a fresh branch or two, complete with leaves that do not easily fall off. The finer the leaves are, the better - sampaloc, madre de cacao, kamias, - or simply any source that is available, including shrubs and vines (kamote, mungo, corn, etc.) Hang the branch securely at the dim part above or close to the fluorescent bulb or Coleman lamp. Be sure not to obstruct the light. Keep away from the food and guests. Observe how the insects settle on the branch and stop flying around.
Insects are attracted by light, especially when there are only a few in the area. An outdoor dinner is ideal for them, attracting those even in distant fields. On arriving at the scene they become disoriented, for which reason they keep flying and flying around the light. With a foothold nearby for them to roost, the insects would gladly cease from their aimless search. Since the Coleman lamp was invented, more so when Thomas Edison came up with a brilliant idea that led to the manufacture of the incandescent light that soon “lighted the world,” nocturnal insects - from midge to moth – have been disturbed of their natural sense of bearing on celestial lights as they travel in darkness. Rizal romantically attributed the death of a moth - lost in its path and singed into the lamp - a heroic act.
12. Incense rids chicken of lice. It also calms them down.
I learned this practice from my father when I was a farmhand. We raised native chickens on the range. In the evening, we would occasionally smoke the fouls in their roasts under the house. “That would rid them of lice (gayamo’ Ilk),” my father assured me. “And pick a cull for tomorrow’s dinner,” he would add.
I would sprinkle powdered incense into live charcoal and you could see the column of smoke rising and filling the roasting area. You could hear the fowls cockle feebly, slowly loosen their feathers and pry their wings as if to allow the cloud of smoke to bathe them. Soon they are lulled to sleep or go into a kind of trance; you could pick them up without any sign of resistance. Without this calming power of incense, the slightest move you make on a roasting chicken would send it squawking in the night.
This fumigation technique was reportedly used in Europe during the Middle Ages to ward off the carrier of bubonic plague (black death), the flea Psynopsella cheopis that resides in mice and people’s dwellings. Incense candle are still used in temples and churches today.
But does incense also have the same calming effect on humans? Imagine the faithful in deep prayer as the priest trains the ciborium (incense vessel) on them. My theory is that incense smoke, or any smoke for that matter, slows down breathing, and some people find breathing difficult. Smoke also carries carbon dioxide and burning itself consumes oxygen in the immediate surroundings for which prolonged exposure is inadvisable.
Try incense fumigation in areas where vermin is prevalent like storage room and rest room, and try it too, in poultry house just what I did many years ago.
13. Bagging is effective way to control fruit flies.
Mango fruit flies (Dacus dorsalis) and ampalaya fruit flies (Dacus cucurbitae) are a scourge on the farm, and these insects are cosmopolitan – they attack oranges, apples, jackfruit, cucumber, upo (Lagenaria leucantha), patola (Luffa acutangula, L. cylindrical), watermelon, melon, and a host of other crops in the tropic and temperate regions.
Fruit flies are different from the popular “fruit flies” – the Drosophila flies hovering around over ripe fruits and vinegar fermentation. Nonetheless they both belong to Order Diptera. The female fruit fly lays eggs with a sharp ovipositor into the fruits usually at their early and juvenile stages. Soon the eggs will hatch into maggots that tunnel and ruin the developing fruits. So massive can infestation become, that whole farms and orchards are deprived of harvest during the fruiting the season – and even in the next.
To save the crops, farmers use the most powerful chemical pesticides - the chlorinated hydrocarbons and phosphatic compounds, many of them are classified systemic. It means that the chemical is absorbed by the plant and is carried into its system, rendering its sap in all parts – root, stem, leaves and fruits - poisonous to any insect, biting and sucking - and particularly those ensconced in the plant itself. It is like introducing drugs into our blood which distributes them to all parts of our body. The big difference though is that systemic poisons in plants stay for a long time, protecting the fruits even after it is mature and ready to harvest. Thus the residue of the poison is passed on to humans and animals that eat them.
Continuous use of strong poison particularly on tough insects like the fruit flies, favors mutation, that is the development of resistant strains. To overcome this, stronger dosage and more potent brands are resorted to, and the battle rages on. To date, fruits flies, and many insect pests for that matter, have acquired resistance to many commercial pesticides. And it is our health and that of the environment that are at risk, while the pesticide industry is a happy lot.
This is where folk wisdom comes in. Traditional farmers use old newspapers and notebooks to wrap developing fruits before they are attacked by fruit flies. Plastic is discouraged because it is hot under the sun and trapped moisture favors fungal and bacterial infection. All you need is to lower the trellis, or avail of a ladder for fruit trees, and patiently wrap the fruits individually. Premium mango fruits are produced this way – they are not only free from fruit flies; they are unblemished and bright yellow. Ampalaya fruits are straight and full and less bitter, their color pale green which is preferred by many housewives. Patola are likewise protected by wrapping. So with upo. Watermelon is difficult to wrap so that farmers resort to covering the growing fruit with rice hay (dayami), often digging a hole under the fruit to keep it cool under the summer sun. Combat fruits flies as your mango tree blooms and your cucurbits flower simply with old newspaper and a stapler at hand, and you will save lives and help the environment her Nature restore its balance.
14. Rice hull ash protects mungbeans from bean weevil.
Burnt rice hull (ipa) contains silica crystals that are microscopic glass shards capable of penetrating into the conjunctiva of the bean weevil, Callosobruchus maculatus. Once lodged, the crystal causes more damage as the insect moves and struggles, resulting in infection and desiccation, and ultimately death.
This is the finding of Ethel Niña Catahan in her masteral thesis in biology at the University of Santo Tomas. Catahan tested two types of rice hull ash, One is partly carbonized (black ash) and the other oven-burned (white ash). Both were applied independently in very small amount as either mixed with the beans or as protectant placed at the mouth of the container. In both preparations and methods, mungbeans – and other beans and cereals, for that matter – can be stored for as long as six months without being destroyed by this Coleopterous insect.
The bean weevil is a cosmopolitan insect whose grub lives inside the bean, eating the whole content and leaving only the seed cover at the end of its life cycle. When it is about to emerge the female lays eggs for the next generation. Whole stocks of beans may be rendered unfit not only for human consumption, but for animal feeds as well. It is because the insect leaves a characteristic odor that comes from the insect’s droppings and due to fungal growth that accompanies infestation. ~