The effect of predation by blue-tits (Parus caeruleus) on the sex-ratio of codling moth (Cydia pomonella).

Published online
01 Jan 1982
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Glen, D. M. & Milsom, N. F. & Wiltshire, C. W.

Publication language
UK & England


In an apple orchard in south-western England where tits (Parus spp.) ate 95% of the overwintering larvae of Cydia pomonella (L.), only 35% of the surviving moths were females. In the absence of bird predation, equal numbers of each sex emerged as adults. In an aviary, blue tits (P. caeruleus) took more female than male larvae from cocoons beneath the bark of logs. The greater susceptibility of female larvae was not associated with their greater average weight; when tits preyed on male and female larvae of similar weights, the difference in predation remained highly significant. When they fed on heavy females and lightweight males, tits did not take significantly more females. It is suggested that female larvae are eaten preferentially because they occupy more exposed positions. It was found that male larvae were better able to squeeze into hiding places than females, because males have narrower head-capsules; four times as many male larvae were able to squeeze through holes 1.6 mm in diameter, but this ability was not related to larval weight. Since the number of male moths caught in pheromone traps is affected by the sex ratio of moths in an orchard, it should be possible to tolerate higher catches in orchards where tits are important predators of overwintering larvae.

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