Mealworms are a very popular food that is left out for birds. However, have you noticed that the mealworms have been getting eaten quicker than you’d suspect and you haven’t seen any birds at your bird feeder.
You might be wondering if other animals, like squirrels, have been eating the mealworms that you have been leaving out. Well, it may be best that you keep reading to see if squirrels do eat mealworms or not.
Also what you can do to stop these animals from eating the mealworms you put out for the birds.
Why Do People Use Mealworms As Animal Food?
Mealworms are popular when it comes to pet food and bird food for wild birds. It is popular because it is available throughout the year and has many health benefits for animals.
Mealworms are not actually worms, instead they are the larvae of a beetle. It is commonly the Yellow Mealworm Tenebrio molitor that is used for food for wild and captive birds, as well as used for food for amphibians and reptiles.
There are various different kinds of mealworms that can be found, and they all differ depending on where they come from and the climate they come from.
The reason why they are enjoyed so much, especially by birds, is because they are a high source of protein. Hence this is why people may use mealworms in their bird feeders or bird tables.
However if you are leaving out mealworms for the birds and you aren’t seeing any birds come to the feeder, then someone else might be eating these mealworms, like squirrels.
Will Squirrels Eat Mealworms?
It might surprise you, but squirrels are omnivores and not herbivores. We are taught growing up that squirrels like to eat nuts and plants (which is still true), but they also eat other animals. This includes eating mealworms. If squirrels are hungry, they will eat pretty much anything.
It has been known for a squirrel to hunt small mice or steal small eggs from small birds. If the animal won’t cause any threat or damage to the squirrel, it will gladly eat that food.
Birds enjoy eating mealworms because they are a high source of protein, and this is what attracts squirrels to mealworms too. They are especially sought after when a squirrel is breeding, giving birth and tending to their young, because they need the extra protein.
Squirrels will actually eat both dried and fresh mealworms, they really aren’t fussy.
Therefore squirrels will eat these mealworms by stealing them from wherever they can find them. This might be from your bird feeder or anywhere you feed the birds.
How Do I Stop Squirrels From Eating My Mealworms?
If you think that squirrels are eating the mealworms you are putting out for the birds, here are a few ways to keep those squirrels away. If you are feeding your birds on the ground, you may want to consider purchasing a bird feeder, as this will help in discouraging squirrels using these techniques easier.
By feeding wild birds on the ground, this makes it harder to stop squirrels coming and eating what is left behind, or eating the mealworms before any birds know that they are there.
Use A Long Pole And Baffle
The simplest way to stop squirrels from eating your mealworms, is to put the bird feeder out of the squirrel’s reach. You can do this by putting the bird feeder on a pole that the squirrel can’t climb. To do this, you need to buy poles with baffles. The surface of a baffle makes it difficult for a squirrel to climb on.
You can buy poles with baffles already on or buy them separately. Then all you need to do is attach the bird feeder to the pole.
On a side note this pole needs to be quite high also. Don’t forget that squirrels can jump quite high. With some squirrels jumping up to four feet in height. Hence just to make sure that your pole is nearer to ten feet in height, to make sure that squirrels can’t just jump onto the bird feeder.
Also with an extra long pole, make sure that your baffle is four feet up from the ground too. This is so the squirrel can’t just jump over the baffle and then climb up onto your bird feeder. It stops the squirrel in every way, in case it is feeling sneaky.
Squirrel Proof Feeder
There are actually bird feeders that have been designed to keep squirrels out. Some bird feeders come with a cage that surrounds the bird feeder. Thus squirrels can’t reach through to get the mealworms, as the hole is too small for them.
While also, there are other bird feeders that you can buy, which use weights. These feeders will cut off the food supply, if there is too much weight on the feeder itself. Birds are much lighter than squirrels and it can be used as the birds are in flight. This is a more reliable feeder to stop squirrels from eating your bird food.
Another way to put squirrels off from eating your mealworms from your bird feeder, is to mix some form of pepper into the food. This can be chillies, hot pepper or cayenne peppers. This is because peppers contain a chemical in them which is called capsaicin.
Capsaicin, in humans, transmits certain signals to the nervous system and to our brain which tells us that they are spicy and you may feel a burning sensation.
Although Capsaicin only affects mammals, as other animals don’t have the same nervous reaction. This is why using hot spices and peppers are a good way to stop squirrels from eating your mealworms. Yet mixing cayenne pepper with your bird food, won’t affect the birds feeding on them.
Adding pepper won’t cause any harm to the squirrels. They will feel a short term effect from the spices, the same as humans do but they won’t be harmed in any way. It may take a couple of attempts for the squirrel to learn to not eat the food.
However, by using this method it will teach the squirrels to not feed from your bird feeder, as it has consequences that they don’t overly enjoy.
Feed The Squirrels Separately
If you decide that you actually don’t mind the squirrels eating the mealworms, but want there to still be enough for the birds. Then you can try feeding the squirrels separately.
The reason why the squirrels might be going to your backyard for food is because they are struggling to find any food anywhere else. Or struggling to find enough food to sustain them, especially during the colder months of fall and winter.
Squirrels have their own food that they really enjoy. So after you have put your bird feeder out of reach of the squirrels, then you need to find somewhere else in your yard where you can put out food for the squirrels.
Some of these foods are similar to what you are feeding your birds already, but you want to move the squirrel away from feeding from your bird feeder.
As long as the squirrel can find enough food in a reachable area, then they will stop eating the food from your bird feeder.
Use Foods That Squirrels Dislike
If you have tried all the methods mentioned above and you are still getting bothered by squirrels, then you only have one option left. You might want to consider putting out food for the birds that squirrels don’t like, so then you don’t have to worry about them eating it.
As mentioned, squirrels will eat pretty much anything, however there are some foods that birds love to eat, which squirrels like to stay away from.
Squirrels enjoy eating mealworms, sunflower seeds, fruits, corn and nuts. However some of the foods that squirrels aren’t very keen on consist of nyjer seeds, white proso millet and safflower seeds.
If a squirrel does come across one of these foods, they will try to look for other foods to eat. So if the squirrel keeps coming across the feeder with foods that it dislikes, it will eventually stop coming to feed from your bird feeder.
What Other Animals Eat Mealworms?
If birds or squirrels aren’t eating your mealworms, then it could be possible that another animal is eating your mealworms. Obviously birds and squirrels will eat mealworms. However the mealworms you put out could also be eaten by other small animals like racoons, mice and rats.
Alongside this, frogs, cockroaches and even snakes are known for eating mealworms.
However all of these animals can be put off from eating your mealworms by using the techniques that have been mentioned above.
It can’t be surprising that mealworms are so sought after. They provide animals with a lot of protein.
Birds love to eat mealworms for that very reason, but when you put mealworms on or in your bird feeder you may notice some other animals eating them. Squirrels are very sneaky and are normally the culprit. Surprisingly, they actually do eat meat and mealworms are on the top of their list.
In this article, we have given you all the ways to stop all creatures including squirrels from eating the mealworms that have been put out for the birds. From making the bird feeder squirrel proof and mixing spicy foods with the mealworms.
You have a lot of options to stop squirrels from eating these mealworms, or you can just embrace them and give them their own table of foods to eat from.