Monday, 2 July 2012

Natural pest contollers - not just wasps?

In Conker Tree Science we've been focussing on the tiny wasps that could act as natural pest controllers for the horse-chestnut leaf-miner. It's an incredible demonstration of the way in which we can rely on insects that are quite so small.

However, evidence is emerging (partly thanks to those who submitted photos via the Leafwatch app) that there may be bigger, fluffier pest controllers around! It seems that birds (probably blue tits and great tits) are preying upon the pupae of the moth, by ripping open the leaf mines.

Here you can see where the bird (probably a blue tit) has ripped open the leaf to prey upon the leaf-miner pupa.

We thought this was worthy of investigation, so we are working on a new mission: bird attacks for people to take part in during August and September. Just like the other two missions, this is a way for anyone to get involved in genuine scientific research. Register to receive updates about this mission and how to take part.

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