Wawona has created a highly successful symbiotic relationship with four families of barn owls in the peach orchards around its Cotati production facility. Barn owls are specialist birds and highly adapted to suit their ecological role as hunters. With guidance from local naturalists, Wawona built and erected four owl houses designed to attract nesting owl pairs.
Wawona’s orchards have proven to be great habitats for the owls – providing roosting, nesting and feeding space as they breed and raise their young. In return, the owls deliver a variety of natural and sustainable benefits for the orchards. The barn owls feed on rodents, gophers and squirrels, which might otherwise eat crops – in and around the orchards or in storage – and keep these populations in balance, eliminating the need for poisons.
Wawona has taken an interesting, but not very romantic approach to eliminating insect pests from its operations – dramatically reducing its need for chemical pesticides. Wawona introduced synthetic pheromone disruptors into the trees that confuse mate localization and courtship, both preventing mating and blocking the insects’ reproductive cycles. By hanging pheromone disruptor tags in trees throughout its orchards, Wawona is preventing the need for chemical insecticide sprays. The only downside … is lonely bugs! We can live with that.
Literally. Wawona make effective and sustainable use of the millions of peach pits it removes from the fruit each season. The pits are spread on the dirt service roads within the orchards to provide dust control and deliver nutrients back into the soils as they degrade. As a result, there is no need for paving or petroleum-based dust reducing liquids. And the roads smell better as well!