Passerines as a natural biological pest control - sources (not only) for university thesis

Hello, I am student of applied ecology on university in Czech Republic and I am working on a thesis about using small hole-nesting passerines as a natural biological pest control in forests. By pest I mean mainly insects eating leaves on deciduous and coniferous trees (Pristiphora sp., Cephalcia sp., Euproctis sp. and so on) - the concept of biological control is based on placing dozens/hundreds of nestboxes in appropriate enviroment combined with winter feeding of birds and regular maintenance and evaluation through the time (long story short..). The thesis output should be simple metodology ("user manual") allowing practical aplication even for a non-ornitologist (recommendations for density of the nestboxes in relation to biotope, regular manitenance and expanding, how to do the evaluation...).

I respect your experience with ornitology in your country, do you have any metodology or basicaly any more complex source covering this topic? Or someone with practical experience?

(I've crawled through Google and scientific sites like Scopus, there are some papers from all around the world... but it looks like they are usually more scientific studies than a regular (practical) application of biological control. I can use father's life-work (he has more than 30 years of experience and a data from a thousands of nestboxes) and my personal humble knowledge, but I would like to compare our results and recomendations with others.)

Thank you for any recommendations! Regards, Miroslav

  • Morning Miroslav,

    I'm aware of a study that was carried out in a green urban, German-speaking setting (either Switzerland or Germany). Certainly Great tits (Parus major); almost certainly for controlling chestnut and lime infestations.

    I'll try to track it down, and will post a link here if I can.

    Best regards -


  • Two more questions for you Miroslav:
    1. Would practical species reintroduction programmes be of interest to you (so, not specifically pest control), and if so, do you speak German?
    2. Are you, if you don't mind me asking, writing your thesis in English?

    Best regards -
  • Hi Dave,

    thank you for your reply! That sounds promising, I believe that Great tits are one of the key species for this purpose. It would be great if you can share with me the reference.

    Ad 1) In the thesis I am focused on pest control, but reintroduction may be intesting just for broadening my own knowledge ;). German is ok and welcomed! (frankly, my German language skills are long forgotten :/ luckily I can read them with help of a translator - but I am not able to effectively search, so I may be missing a lot - the more I am interested in German sources like the study you've mentioned in your first post).

    Ad 2) Of course I don't mind - unfortunatelly I am writing in my native language. But many references are in english and I may translate summary of key ideas if I find more people interested in it.

    Best regards, Miroslav
  • Miroslav, hi there.

    So I'll try to find that paper, and will let you know if I do.

    I've a friend who started what is now quite a significant reintroduction project (Wrynecks; Jynx torquilla); any descriptions will almost certainly be in German. I'll see what I can find.

    Regarding writing in English, thank you for letting me know. If you decide to write an English summary or, say, abstract, send me a "friendship request" (I think that's what they're called in this community) if you wish, and we can discuss offline how I may be able to support you with that.

    Best regards -


  • Is man interfering with nature at least partially to blame for the current state of the planet? Would the introduction of more predators decimate the work that the insects do, as a positive within the forest? (I'm a complete layman in the science, but those were the 1st thoughts that came into my mind when I read the opening post)
  • In reply to PimperneBloke:

    PimperneBloke said:
    Would the introduction of more predators decimate the work that the insects do, as a positive within the forest?

    A question for the original poster, to be sure.

    My (very sketchy) understanding of the projects I'm aware of is that we've degraded the habitat of birds (like the Great Tit) that would otherwise have been "doing the job" of keeping insect populations to a sustainable level.

    A related question, PB: Assuming you want to eat, say, beetroot, would you prefer birds or neonicotinoids were used to make beetroot culture possible? Not a trick question.

  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Dave - CH said:
    beetroot culture

    Do beetroot appreciate the finer things?

    In an ideal world no chemical intervention would be required or necessary, I guess, although it's not something I've ever really thought about at any length

  • They use tit nesting boxes in France quite a lot for control of Processionary caterpillars, but I can't find a paper about it. There is an item here (in French) Chevalet Alterpro vINRA VERSION inra DEC 2017vdef.pdf on Pages 15 & 16.

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • In reply to PimperneBloke:

    PimperneBloke said:
    Do beetroot appreciate the finer things?

    HRH believes so. And he appears to have made the long journey from crank to guru.

    PimperneBloke said:
    In an ideal world no chemical intervention would be required or necessary,

    But we have been doing it for a long time, and there is chemical intervention and chemical intervention. I'd categorize placing lavender cuttings on the feet of roses as chemical intervention, but one that only seems to affect greenfly, so fairly low impact.

  • In reply to Noisette:

    Hazel C said:
    Processionary caterpillars

    I was thinking of them earlier today, Hazel, in this very context. Now there's a bug that it seems reasonable to control.