Live mealworms versus dried mealworms for your garden birds

In most supermarkets and garden centres it's very easy to spot a tub of dried mealworms. To get some live wrigglers you may have to go out of your way and get them ordered. Do birds have a preference and what should you choose for your garden? Let's find out.

The price of a tub of live or dried mealworms in often very similar. Whether you buy one or the other usually depends on how easy it is to find mealworms, and your ick factor when it comes to putting your hands in a tub of wriggling mealworms or the thought of them squirming around somewhere in your house. It really just comes down to your own preferences, but I have some tips I've learned over the years.


Birds don't really like solid, dried mealworms. It is rare that birds will eat dried mealworms put out straight from the plastic pot. Understandably, when a bird is used to wriggling, soft worms it doesn't really know what to do with this foreign, rock-hard substance. Mixing pieces of these with homemade suet is a great way to give the birds a source of protein in a form they know how to eat. Another tip for making your dried worms edible is to soak them in boiling water, either for an hour, or by pouring it over the worms for a minute to soften them up slightly before you put them out. This increases your chances of the birds eating your mealworms dramatically; as the softened worms have a texture and appearance for more similar to the ones the birds peck at themselves in the wild.

I have the most success with using live worms myself. The movement is far more lively to catch a bird's eye when it flutters around your garden, and as wild animals they feel more comfortable eating a food that is known and natural to them. If you're going to feed live mealworms to your birds it's best to put out as much as you can quite regularly. If you don't plan on taking care of mealworms they may die and start to rot, which could disease the other mealworms and become a hazard to the birds. Most people probably don't like the idea of a tub of live worms sitting in their house for a length of time either.

The best time to feed these the your birds would be winter or the nesting season. The mealworms are full of calories and protein, which is vital for body temperature regulation, and you will be supplying bird parents with easy access to a natural food source they can feed their chicks.

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