Great tits and insect pests


Great tits and insect pests

Coddling moths (Cydia pomonella) is one of the main pest in apple orchard in the world and especially in Israel. During the last years coddling moth has been responsible for a large percentage of crop damage and therefore farmers have invested 54-73% of yearly budgets on pest control to try to reduce the coddling moth damage. Unfortunately, these traditional pesticides have many short comings, mainly they have not worked and also have many negative secondary effects to our ecosystems, biodiversity and also human health. Song birds in general and great tits (Parus major) in particular have been observed to not only prey on coddling moths but to reduce damage in apple orchards in Europe.  Great tits have the potential to be used as biological pest control agents because they are very common resident birds that specialize in caterpillar predation and populations can be manipulated by adding nest boxes.

Objectives: To date there has never been a study to determine whether the great tits can also reduce apple damage and also reduce harmful pesticide use in Israel. We propose a set of field experiments to determine whether great tit predation will decrease damage by coddling moths. We hypothesis that increased predation will decrease both coddling moth numbers and damage to apples.