Friday, August 29, 2014

Practical pest control methods

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Golden apple snail (Pomacea caniculata) is the number 
one pest of rice plants today in the Philippines. They lay 
pink eggs in clusters above the water level ensuring 
viability and high survival. 

1.  Snails (kuhol) are controlled with tubli, makabuhay and other plants.
Before the introduction of chemical pesticides our native kuhol was a good source of viand in the ricefield and seldom did it turn against growing rice plants. Almost simultaneously in the sixties the golden kuhol or apple snail (Pomacea caniculata) was introduced with the promise that it is a better gourmet, and that it could even be exported.  It did not turn out that way, and with the resistance this exotic mollusk developed having left behind its natural enemies, it emerged a maverick, now the number one pest of rice plants infesting two-thirds of our total lowland ricefield area of no less than two million hectares. Agriculturists have lately turned their attention to phytochemicals to control golden kuhol.  These are the plants they have confirmed to be effective.
·         Derris philippinensis (derris or tubli)
·         Manihot esculenta (cassava)
·         Chrysanthemum morifolium (chrysanthemum)
·         Capsicum anuum (pepper or siling labuyo)
·         Tinospora rhumpii (makabuhay) - Photo, below
·         Azideracta asiatica (Neem) 

Except for siling labuyo, the leaves and stems of any of these plants are either crushed or chopped finely and applied directly on the ricefield, controlling the water level up to three to four inches so as to allow the active ingredients to spread out and reach the pest in all of its stages. Where there are two or more of these plants growing in the area, farmers may use them in any combination, either alternately or simultaneously.

2. Incense rids chickens 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.~

Biological Control - Preying or praying mantis (Mantis religiosa) is the number one executioner in the insect world, a friend to farmers and gardeners. 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Padas Bagoong, a rare specialty but ecologically unfriendly

Ecologically we are destroying the species every time we patronize padas bagoong. One kilo of padas is equivalent to several hundreds of individual fish that potentially mature in six months time reaching up to one kilo apiece. The mature padas is malaga (Ilk) or samaral, one of the tastiest fish in the world. It is prized by the Chinese in celebration of the Chinese New Year. To Filipinos - and other Asians - serving samaral during Holy Week and fiestas is a status symbol. The price of samaral in the market is twice or thrice that of ordinary fish.

Dr Abe V Rotor

Padas is the fry of spinefoot or rabbitfish, locally known as Malaga or samaral (right), mainly of the species Siganus canaliculatus.  Other common species are S. concatenates, S corallinus and S. spinus.

The white spotted siganid Siganus canaliculatus (Park, 1797), locally known as “danggit”, is one of the most important and heavily exploited fish species in the country, with adults and juveniles often targeted for boneless production, and post-larvae sizes (padas) for fish paste or bagoong, a popular condiment. Right, dried fish market of danggit, dilis (anchovies), alamang (small shrimps)

Padas is the fry of spinefoot or rabbitfish, locally known as Malaga or samaral. mainly of the species Siganus canaliculatus and S. concatenates and S corallinus and S. spinus. These species occur in schools in coastal areas around rocky and corals feeding on phytoplankton and browsing on seaweeds and seagrasses. They grow up to 280 mm. They tolerate a wide range of salinity that they enter rivers or go down to the open sea.

Spinefoots or rabbit fishes are members of the Siganidae family. There is only a single genus, Siganus with 32 member-species worldwide. They are found in the Indo-Pacific and eastern Mediterranean oceans, living in shallow coastal waters to a depth of 50 meters. They can be recognized based on pelvic fins with 2 spines (one strong inner and one outer spine, with 3 soft rays in between). Spinefoots are diurnal herbivores that feed on benthic algae. They can be found living in pairs or in school of up to 15 fishes. 

Caution: The samaral has very sharp and venomous spine on the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins.  The spines can cause a very sharp pain, bleed and numbness (especially when the fish is alive), but they are not fatal. Handling of the fish with hand is done by holding the gill covers, or the widespread dorsal fin.  In this way the fish becomes docile and normally does not attempt to struggle.
When passing through Urdaneta and Villasis towns of Pangasinan you find padas bagoong in bottles sold on the shelf or by peddlers. Sometimes the small fish is beautifully arranged in rows covering the entire bottle. How skillfully and patiently is the art done considering how small the fry is. Those familiar with the product prefer seasoned bagoong  over a newly made one. Like wine, seasoned bagoong is better. They know it if the fish are well settled in the bottle with an appreciable amount of patis appearing as a distinct layer on top. On the other hand, the patis of raw bagoong is at the bottom or middle of the bottle, and if there is too much of it, they know that the product is diluted with water.

Next time a vendor offers padas, think of the tiny fish as the potential tasty malaga or samaral which grows up to a kilo apiece. Harvesting the fry (padas) and its juvenille (danggit) is an opportunity loss for the fish to increase in number and maintain a stable population level, and to grow fully and become affordable to the ordinary consumer. Harvesting of padas and danggit should be regulated, if not banned.  Conservation of this threatened species starts with us.~

Acknowledgement: Wikipedia, Internet; Conlu P V 1986 FishesGuide to Philippine Flora and Fauna Series.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fear! You can conquer it through "Art Therapy"

Our children are filled with imaginary fears which their young minds absorb from movies, TV programs, magazines, and now through social media. It could be for lack of guidance, comfort and love, too. These residues of fear must be removed, and the sooner the better, before they develop into phobia and nightmare which may persist in their adult age. 
NOTE: Art therapy can be integrated in Art Workshops for Children of reputable institutions or tutorship.  
Dr Abe V Rotor

Don' let fear persist,
take it out soonest.
Here's one proven way:
art therapy.

An art workshop
is the best avenue;
let the children enjoy,
and draw freely.

Guide them draw
anything in mind;
happy, sad, fearful,
then you know.

From these drawings
I talked to the child,
confided with his parents -
beautiful result!

Children have fears,
no exception,
it's part of growing up

Fear conquers,
conquer fear instead;
draw the kapre -
now he is gone.

Draw the cobra
now he is tame;
draw a shadow,
it is your own.

Draw a road
lonely and far;
now draw houses
along the way.

A hospital scene
with friendly doctors,
draw your patient
with a smile.

Rejected, lonely,
draw a round table
with people around,
you and your family. ~

 You can diagnose your child through his subjects, colors, lines, strokes, his persistence on a certain theme, and his reactions while he is in his artwork. Ordinarily experiences like these are normal.  But there are certain indications you may seek professional advice, 
This is one way to check the suspected behavior of your child - reactions based on the senses. The two drawings show fear of a imaginary serpent, an influence of such movies as Anaconda (biggest snake in the world).  There are many similar causes of fear, among them: Jaws (shark), King Kong (giant gorilla). Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (movie), Travels of Gulliver (novel about giants and dwarfs), Frankenstein (man-made monster), Gabi ng Lagim (Filipino favorite of ghosts and spirits), and many. many more.  Let us save our children. (Drawings by Leo carlo R Rotor in the Grades, ca 1990)   

Landscapes to the Young Mind

"To the artist, 
the creative mind 
makes the sea live or die,
real or imaginary; 
she is the master."
Paintings by Anna Christina R Rotor in the Grade School 
Flowers are red and yellow, 
trees are green, sky is blue;
true colors of pure thoughts,
colors of innocence, too.
Nature's curtain, let me count your ways: 

     waterfall of foaming white
     down a cliff of verdant green;

     stream in crystal shade and hue
    among rocks and trees;  

    sky red and gray at sunset, 
    yellow and orange at sunrise;

    black and gray before a storm,  
    dull and gray as rains pour;
   lightning in the darkness of night,
   pictures the world at rest;

   watershed, nature's wall of trees,
   life of lakes, mirror of the sky.

  the aurora - borealis in the north
  australis in the southern realm;

Nature's curtain, I haven't painted you enough.   
To the young, the sea plays among the rocks and children,
joyous in their games  and laughter;
To the grownups, it's tidal wave spawning on the shore,
in fear, warn of a coming disaster.   
To the artist, the creative mind makes the sea live or die,
real or imaginary, she is the master.   

Moths: Masters of Camouflage and Mimicry (Part 1)

Dr Abe V Rotor  
Art of Camouflage 
Your artful disguise 
makes you invisible and free;  
Nature's given prize
of camouflage and mimicry.
Kite Moth
It is not only that birds follow the sun
that the sky is filled with colors and laughter;
it is your body symmetry copied for fun,
that children believe they own the sky
and make imagination their best teacher,
even in their dreams to fly.
If your wings are for short takeoff and speed,
and your long antennae and infrared eyes 
defy the darkness of night, then I believe
someone has copied you in steel that flies. 
Jade Moth
If I freeze your beauty
and wear it on my heart,
I rob Nature, her grace apart; 
a star dies, so with art.
False Eyes
Whose eyes these are, real or just mask?
Why grotesque and cold, the children ask?
Unmoved, you simply sleep and wait 'til dawn,
and they ask again if they were your own.  
Stealth Moth
Man copied you but for another purpose;
peace and quiet you live, his intent is not,
but to rule the sky fiery by day and night; 
cheer up, for imitation will never be right.  
Falcon Moth
You are on the ceiling all alone
and the toad looking up
thinks of you a falcon;
in make-believe it's good to be up
with reverse role as predator;
everything's prey on the floor. 
Footprint Moth
If these two sets of footprints
lead to opposite directions, 
did you depart when  I needed you most?
What goodness did I lack?
"My child, you were alone 
and lost and I brought you back."
Hidden Mirror on the Wall
No, it's not Paleolithic painting,
but hidden mirror on the wall:
Bless you creature in slumber waiting 
the light of the world to fall,
then seek a beacon in the night
where a pen draws its might.
Atlas Moth
Thought you could put one on Hercules,*
from the burden of the world you're free; 
so thought too, the dinosaurs in spree;
bigness is no guarantee no less;

birds fly on wings and hollow bones,
flies need not four wings but two,
none but the water strider glides best - 
be humble, bigness is weakness, too.  

* In Greek mythology, Atlas played trick on Hercules to take 
over him carry the globe; but Hercules was smarter, 
and the task fell back on poor Atlas.  

Moths: Masters of Camouflage and Mimicry (Part 2)

Dr Abe V Rotor

Ghost Moth
From visibility to invincibility;
first, keep low like ice in thaw; 
then, keep shape with the scape, 
wear some spots, add many dots;
last, you're ghost to any host.

Chameleon Moth 
Where comes the trigger I know 
are hormones by signal flow, 
masking colors, painting a view, 
to match a perfect scenario.
Lion Moth
You look like a lion without mane,
and that's why you look tame;
how in the world can you scare 
with your lonely, friendly stare. 
Prominent Moth
(How can you be prominent?)
Who would like you a frass lying still on crust,
feigning inanimate to pass the day in fast. 
Vesper Moth
You, who keep the faithful in vigil,
wearing a white stole over a holy robe - 
would being pious save you long?
Beaks and jaws simply don't care,
much less the order you belong
Tiger Moth
It is the tiger look that you seem respected,
else the mourning signal you send;
but whose view but the cruel beak instead
whose judgement lies your fateful end.  
Tapestry Moth
What you designed, man now claims his own,
yet it was your ancestors' pride before his dawn;
conditionally you gave, for a prize you crave,
by copying his art you may be saved. 
Poison Eater Moth
Moth feeding on the nectar of Lantana (Lantana camara
a poisonoius and obnoxious plant
What secret have you on hemlock you thrive,
which once robbed the world of a great mind?
Come to where there's li'l left of faith and pride;
bless you little moth, a messenger divine.
Battered Moth
Wings chipped, scales rubbed,
antennae curled, finish scrubbed;
eggs laid, leg cut, coat creased,
grounded, mission accomplished. 
Wood Moth
You look beaten like an old wood,
weathered by rain and tear and sun,
yet full of life and in good mood
like a seasoned timber's stand.
Klan Moth
With robe and hood you come and pause
in dignity, a racist you hide;
reminder of the Fuhrer's cause,
the ignoble Ku Klux Khan's pride;
but if you're a true ambassador,
please bring tidings to every door.
Furry Moth
Gather the dust and clothe your frame;
Wake up at dusk and play the game;
and feigning dead and devoid of spark,
your enemies take \you for just a bark.

Moths: Masters of Camouflage and Mimicry (Part 3)

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Sphinx Moths: 
Polymorphism or Diversity?
These three Sphinx moths have strong basic morphological characteristics, including size and color that at first glance one would not suspect their differences.  The shape and position of their antennae are different, so with their "hoods".  Another difference lies in the markings on their bodies and wings.  In some cases a pair of eyes (lowermost photo) appears real to a would-be predator.  
Markings and Transparency
Two ways to mimic and not be seen,
opaque and part of canvas;
or translucent as if you're not there, 

and let the enemy pass. 
The Art of Taking Off
Either it flaps or glides on the wind that a moth flies.  It can be both, Left photo shows a gypsy moth preparing for takeoff with wings drawn up.  At this stage, the predator is puzzled of the sudden transformation into a bright and large abdomen, while the moth flies and escape.  A hawk moth (right)  spreads its wings side wise and prepares to glide.  Without a favorable wind current it is a clumsy flyer.  Because moths are nocturnal, navigation relies mainly on the sensitive antennae and two compound eyes. 
From Dropping to Monster

This Geometrid moth lies prostrate like a dropping of a bird or rodent in order to escape its enemies. Then it begins to stir as it senses danger, its antennae now beginning to rise, and its wings start to split open ready for takeoff.  There is a close relative of the moth (not in the photo) which has a unique defense mechanism.  It twists its outer wings upward and inward, exposing a monstrous look to scare the intruder  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Children's Art Workshop: Painting and Drama

Dr Abe V Rotor

Of Brush and Colors
 I am what my brush and colors take me, 
to where the boundless world that be;\
beyond the sky or in the depth of me 
beyond the boundaries of what I see.   

Art Workshop 

To each his or her own now, and time to waste,
if idleness in art means any less;
and growing up a matter of chase and haste,
heed not, for the clay is still fresh.
Children's Art Exhibit

It's open house to view our children's art;
Amazing!  And who wouldn't agree?
For the young fills something on our part,  
We who were once talented and free.
Ribbon Cutting on Exhibit Day

Ritual we may say, or just ceremony,
Cheap on today's print or TV;
It's all about money and personality.
Save the young while still early.
Early Masterpieces 

When is pride humility?
Showing to the world beauty,
Handmade, and telling it good
As a good child really should.
Deities of Nature - A Drama Skit

Good spirits - they are deities of Nature,
living in forests, rivers, lakes and seas,
keepers of our land, air and water pure,
working night and day, at ease and peace.  
Best Artist Award

Single out the best, make them meek,
with medals to wear and to keep;
that others may also strive to seek,
what they may have failed to reap.
Art Instructor (Author as organizer and art instructor)

Give me your children's gifted hands
to hold the brush this summer;
and paint the glowing rainbow's bands
that bring in a sudden shower;
make the canvas come alive from the sands
of time, to a beautiful flower.
(Children's Summer Art Workshop, Filinvest Homes QC, 1996)
Workshop Graduation 

It's not an end, but a beginning,
From one chapter after another;
For life has no end nor beginning,
In one's own lifetime to another.~