Martin vs Starling Appetite
Name: Carol M.
Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002
I live on an coastal island with a small spring feed
lake in Savannah, Ga. This is a healthy lake with good fishing,
birds,etc. The problem are the flying insects. (midges, sandgnats,
mosquitos's and horse flies.) I have two questions. I bought a martin
house. If I cut the entrances larger it becomes a martin or starling
house. Which one eats the most insects? The next is what other
suggestions do you have to help eliminate this problem. This year has
been awful. It has been very dry and I haven't noticed as many skinks,
lizards, or frogs. Thanks for your help.
You make this very easy! DO NOT ALTER THE MARTIN HOUSE! Starlings can not
even come close the the Martin's ability to
capture flying insects because Starlings can not catch anything in flight.
Starlings are from Europe and are omnivores so
they eat just about anything, but not while they are flying. Their beaks
are not designed for catching on the fly!
Martins, on the other hand, are native and eat only insects. I suggest
that you avoid attracting Starlings at
all for they are agressive "beasties" and drive out native species like the
Flying insects can be controlled using bats, swallows, goatsuckers, Chimney
Swifts and Martins. Build bat houses, ask
naturalists in your area how to attract swallows. Chimney Swifts like tall
structures to nest inside and goatsuckers usually
find flat roofs to their liking. The descriptions I have been giving are
typical in the midwest anyway. Again, seek some advise
or attend or join a local Audubon Chapter for some of this information may
not be relivent to your ecosystem.
FYI: Martins are protected by State and Federal laws; Starlings are not.
Martins eat flying insects, starling generally do not. Starlings will eat
insects when they can catch them, and probably eat some larvae and even
eggs, but will not do much to reduce flying insect populations. In general
naturalists advise discouraging starlings as much as possible.
As for the overall bug problem, I have no suggestions. The insects you
mention are very much a part of a healthy system and feed many other
creatures. Any sort of insecticide will disrupt the entire system. Perhaps
you can contact a nature center or agricultural extension service in your
area for advice. Good luck.
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