PURPLE MARTINS-NATURE'S PEST CONTROL
Nothing can be more aggravating than having to swat mosquitoes while I'm trying to garden! A few years ago, my husband erected a house for purple martins in our front yard. We wanted to attract the birds, as we had heard they were mosquito gobblers. He placed the 12-compartment structure on a 16-foot pole in an area away from buildings and trees. Much to our surprise, we had a few pairs of purple martins come to live with us that season.
The next year we put up another martin house about 20 feet from the first one. Both were soon full. We now have three martin houses and eagerly await the birds' return in late February and mourn their leaving in the middle of July.
If you have enough open area in your yard, I'd encourage you to consider erecting a house for purple martins between now and February to be ready for their return in 2001. The sociable purple martins prefer to live in apartment houses made up of six or more 6" x 6" x 6" cubes with a 2 1/2" entry hole in each. Houses should be placed in a 40' to 50' cleared area on 15' to 20' high poles, not too far from human habitation and a fresh water supply.
You'll be surprised at the aesthetic appeal these cheerful birds will add to your garden. And after all, isn't it the goal of all gardeners to make our little piece of this wonderful planet more beautiful and appealing?
Ann Rosson, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas Cooperative Extension
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