To you and me mealworms are unattractive, squirmy insects. To many birds they are a delicacy. What exactly are mealworms? Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle. It is natural for birds to like eating mealworms as they often eat insects. Many birds love mealworms especially bluebirds, chickadees and wrens.
You have 2 choices when it comes to mealworms: you can buy live worms or dried worms. The chart below breaks down the pros and cons of dried vs. live mealworms. The dried worms are dead and will not harm the birds, however, I've found that birds tend to prefer live mealworms. Birds will eat the dried worms, but the live ones are just more appealing.
Some birders are squeamish and prefer not to deal with live worms, which is perfectly understandable. There are many benefits of having dried mealworms. You don't have to worry about feeding them or keeping them refrigerated. And they also are about half the cost of live mealworms.
The table below lists the positives and negatives of live vs. dried mealworms.
|More Costly||Less Costly|
|Must feed and refrigerate||No special storage requirements|
|Can escape from tray feeder||Stay put in tray feeder|
|More appealing to birds||Less appealing to birds|
You can buy dried mealworms at a regular pet store. I think it would difficult to find live ones though. And, they will cost you much more than if you purchased them from an online retailer. Also, you won't find them near any bird seed or bird food products. This is because mealworms have been traditionally marketed for reptiles like snakes and lizards. They will more than likely be found near the food for reptiles in very small cans.
If you are purchasing live mealworms for the first time, buy the lowest quantity you can which will probably be about 1,000. Since this is your first experience with mealworms you don't want to have too much invested in case you decide caring for them is not for you.
A few tips about storing your live mealworms:
*Don't put them out in wet weather as they will drown
*Feed them oats
*Refrigerate them at a temperature of 40 to 50 degrees F
*Keep in a container no deep than a shoebox
There are many birds than enjoy these squirmy insects. It is natural, as insects are a major part of birds' diets. I encourage you to try feeding these to your backyard birds. I have a feeling you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.