Biocontrol of Cameraria ohridella by insectivorous birds in different landscape contexts.
The horse chestnut leaf miner (HCLM) Cameraria ohridella Deschka and Dimic (Lepidoptera, Gracillariidae) is a novel but significant pest in Europe. Current control measures are either inefficient or environmentally harmful. Tits (Parus spp.) open the mines and prey on HCLM, but the biocontrol efficiency of this behaviour has not yet been quantified. We installed bird nesting-boxes in a biennial field study on four sites close to Brunswick (Germany). On the same sites, we counted HCLM pupae, larvae, opened and closed mines, and parasitised larvae and pupae in leaves collected from horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum L., Hippocastanaceae) trees with and without bird exclusion. In both years, the HCLM number and the proportion of closed mines were higher in bird exclusion trees, particularly on sites with high abundance of tits. Hence, we suggest including the facilitation of birds, particularly tits, in future HCLM biocontrol strategies.