How to use mealworms as bird food

Peter McNish

Feeding mealworms as bird food

Birds love insects, and adding mealworms to your feeder is simpler than you think. Whether live mealworms or dried mealworms, these insects will be a nutritious snack that will be adored by hungry nestlings and breeding birds.

By feeding them as a bird food source you will be unleashing an entirely new method of attracting different birds to your garden

About Mealworms

The Kennedy mealworms are the larvae of the flour beetle, a native British beetle. They are scientifically known as Tribolium confusum, or darkling beetles. The larvae itself can be referred to as golden grubs, probably because they are absolute gold for birds to eat. Our range includes:

Why are mealworms a good bird food source?

These insects are a rich source of protein (over 50%), fibre and fats that are key for muscle development in birds. The live mealworms, in particular, are juicy and birds find them extremely tasty, especially finches, siskins, black birds and robins. It’s always a good idea to leave a few extra out for these birds

However, mealworms are low in calcium and should not be the only food you leave out in your garden. Dried mealworms work well when they are combined with mixed bird seed.

What birds eat mealworms?

Any insectivorous (soft billed) bird will love mealworms.The majority of passerines (perching birds) will enjoy them too, especially when they are feeding their young. The protein is essential for their growth. Birds you will likely find enjoying them in your garden include;

  • Blue and great tits
  • House Sparrows
  • Blackbirds
  • Robins
  • Starlings
  • Thrushes

Any other birds you find regularly visiting your feeders may also indulge in a mealworm snack if they find them available.

How to feed mealworms

Mealworms can be fed in live or dried form. Live insects are of course much preferred, being much juicier and tastier. The movements of the mealworm will also help attract birds.

As well as using a mealworm feeder, live mealworms should be offered in a shallow dish with smooth, straight sides, such as glass or a plastic container. With rough containers, the larvae can climb out. Containers should have smooth sides at least 2 inches deep so they cannot escape.

Dried mealworms can be stored much longer in separate containers. They can even be mixed in with other seed, fruit or suet pellets for a more balanced diet

Mealworms, although nutritional, are not complete. It’s best to offer in limited quantities. Filling a dish once a day can provide the right amount of mealworms to treat your garden birds without leaving leftovers that can attract pests.

Storage

Live mealworms should be kept in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area. Their rate of growth depends on temperature. 8-10C is ideal, and with adequate food, they can be kept for several months. At 8C it would take several weeks for mealworms to grow. Temperatures below 5C will kill them.

Dried mealworms should be stored in a dry, cool well-ventilated area.

Making mealworms easy to find

When offering mealworms to birds, make sure they are in an easy to reach position. This means making them visible so all birds, of all sizes, can enjoy them. Leaving them near perches or near your regular bird feeder can help birds find them.

Patience is key

It may take a little longer than you expected for birds to realise that your garden is their new favourite spot and that dried mealworms are a food source. Be patient, lure birds in with live mealworms and leave dried ones nearby. All it takes is for one bird to realise that they are edible and the others will soon flock over.

 



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