Ron has installed more than 800 Western Bluebird nest boxes on Spring Mountain Vineyard’s 225 acres of vines. They are attracting Western Bluebirds to help control the Blue-green Sharpshooter population, a common vector for the devastating Pierce’s disease. Over the years of managing these boxes Ron has seen a dramatic drop, and even elimination in some areas, of the Sharpshooter population. When asked if Western Bluebirds are ever a problem, Ron responds “I have never seen damage to the grapes from the Bluebirds at all.”
Dr. Julie Jedlicka is an Associate Professor of Biology at Missouri Western State University. Her research at Spring Mountain Vineyard and surrounding areas looked at how nest boxes increased Western Bluebird populations and if those birds were providing a significant pest control service. Her findings confirmed that Western Bluebirds were eating a significant amount of pests, and a leafhopper closely related to the Blue-green Sharpshooter, indicating that the birds would very likely be important predators for this pest insect.