June 25th, 2024

Mosquito Terminator a natural way to prey on bugs

By Nikki Jamieson SOUTHERN ALBERTA NEWSPAPERS on June 26, 2021.

Southern Alberta Newspapers photo by Nikki Jamieson Birds of Prey Managing Director Colin Weir presents FortisAlberta President and CEO Janine Sullivan with a birdhouse during the Mosquito Terminator unveiling this week in Coaldale.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDssnews@sunnysouthnews.com

A new nesting platform has been installed at the Birds of Prey Centre.
In an event earlier this week, the Birds of Prey Centre and FortisAlberta were proud to announce the unveiling of the Mosquito Terminator.
A joint project with FortisAlberta, the Sarcee Fish and Game Association and the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre, it is a barn swallow nesting platform that aims to provide a nesting site for the natural mosquito predators.
“This partnership offers an environmentally friendly way to control pests while creating a nesting site for barn swallows,” said Janine Sullivan, president and CEO of FortisAlberta, adding the project was extremely cool.
Janine also presented the centre with a $50,000 cheque. FortisAlberta has supported the Birds of Prey Centre since 2006, and over the years has donated $720,000 towards the centre.
The idea for the platform came from Kelly Weatherall, an asset management senior planner for Fortis. As part of the Sarcee F&G Association, Weatherall said he’s built a lot of artificial habitats, and he was looking to expand on that work.
Barn swallows require a different nesting site to a traditional bird house, as they look for things like ledges to build their nests on. During his research for the project, what concerned him the most was that one of the top searches seemed to be for getting rid of them.
“They tend to nest under people’s houses and they tend to be over doors or windows and they make a mess, and people try to get rid of them,” said Weatherall. “I was thinking well, here we want them, let’s make a spot for them.”
The nesting platform is also outfitted with a bat box, and Weatherall noted that once the pole’s intended inhabitants move in, there will be constant mosquito mitigation going on.
“If we can get the birds to start using them, I think, I’ve heard reports where bats and birds eat up to 1,000 mosquitos a night or a day,” said Weatherall. “What I like about the concept too is that it’s like 24/7 mosquito control: bats at night, birds during the day.”
Colin Weir, managing director of the Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale, said it was good to have a “natural” control for the mosquito population, rather then relying on expensive pesticides.
“Just in general, even bats, for example, and barn swallows, they’re here for a reason, and they really provide a lot of benefits to us,” said Weir, noting old farmhouses are a perfect example of habitat for barn swallows. “We will educate people a little bit so they can appreciate the presence of these creatures, in and around their homes.”
Weatherall said Fortis was hugely supportive of the project, and he couldn’t have done it alone. Employees from the FortisAlberta Lethbridge office placed the pole for the structure at the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre, and Weatherall called the crew “tremendous”.
“These are the types of ideas that we love to see our employees bring forward,” said Sullivan. “Our commitment to the environment is really represented by ambassadors like Kelly (Weatherall), and it gives us great pleasure to help him see these types of projects through.”
“One of the things we want to do here at the centre is we want this to be a bit of a place where there’s different ideas that people can actually take and use them in their own farms, acreages and even urban backyards,” said Weir. “The idea is hopefully when people see these things here, like the bat houses and the barn swallow nesting area, they’ll want to implement some of these ideas back on their own farms and acreages and backyards.”

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