Birds considered natural insecticides

The common swift, barn swallow and house martin, three insectivorous urban bird species, are experiencing a marked decline in their populations, despite their crucial role in controlling insect pests. The destruction of their nesting habitats and the use of pesticides are the main threats they face.

The Spanish Ornithological Society and Ecologists in Action have been leading campaigns to protect these species, highlighting their benefit in controlling pests affecting crops and human health. Although they are protected by law, the elimination of their breeding and nesting areas is still frequent, especially due to aesthetic and cleanliness perceptions.

The evolution of populations between 1998 and 2019 shows a steep decline, with a significant loss of individuals, especially swallows. Pesticide use, air pollution and climate change also threaten their survival.

These birds are valuable for insect control, with a diet that includes flies, mosquitoes and other insects. The barn swallow, for example, consumes around 310,000 flies and mosquitoes per year, providing an essential ecosystem service for agriculture and human health.

A joint effort by public administrations and society is required to ensure the survival of these species, including the approval of municipal ordinances that favour their conservation. Campaigns such as ‘Las tres mosquiteras’ seek urban planning measures to protect their populations and actions to facilitate the census and establishment of new colonies.

Swifts and swallows are particularly endangered, with the annual loss of around one million birds in Spain, underlining the urgency of action to protect them.

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Aragón Ecológico