It is very common for bugs to appear in a bird feeder. The bugs could be caused by an infestation of seeds that occurred during manufacturing, or they could be caused by mold growing in the feeder. It is still safe for birds to eat the seed.
What You'll Learn
- 1 Surprise! There Are Bugs In The Bird Feeder
- 2 What Are These Common Invaders?
- 3 Why Do These Insects End Up In Bird Seed and Feeders?
- 4 A Dirty Feeder Can Also Attract Bugs
- 5 How to Prevent Bugs From Appearing in Bird Seed
- 6 Are These Bugs Bad For Birds?
Common insects found in bird feeders are the Mediterranean Flout Moths, Indian Meal Moths, and Weevils. Improper grain storage from birdseed processing plants causes insects to lay eggs in birdseed. A simple solution to eliminate these insects is by placing unopened birdseed in the freezer, killing insect eggs in birdseed.
When you purchase any type of birdseed, whether for your pet bird or wild birds, inspect the birdseed for any signs of bug infestation before filling the bird feeder.
If the birdseed you purchased has an insect infestation, the good news is that there are several effective ways to eliminate the infestation.
Surprise! There Are Bugs In The Bird Feeder
Oh no! You have an unexpected surprise in your bird feeder. The first thing that may come to your mind is, “what is that?” Or “How do I get rid of those bugs?”
An insect infestation is most commonly from dirty bird seed purchased from well-known manufacturing companies.
It is important to inspect birdseed for any potential signs of insect infestation filling the feeder. Fortunately, it is simple to treat and prevent insects from creating an infestation in your birdseed.
What Are These Common Invaders?
There are three main types of bugs likely to make their way into bird seed or bird feeders.
Mediterranean Flour Moths
These are a five to eight-inch length, pale gray, and have a wingspan of less than one inch. They are extremely common in supermarkets and warehouses because they provide an ideal breeding environment.
Female Mediterranean Flour Moths deposit their eggs within food particles. The food particles serve as a food source for offspring.
Common food items affected by these pests include flour, grains, and birdseed. When you see fine, cobweb-like webbing in the food or see clear worms in the food, you more than likely have a Mediterranean Flour Moth infestation.
Indian Meal Moths
Also called “pantry moths,” they are small, gray-winged insects. They are often found indoors. They are the most difficult pests to control in food processing factories.
The easiest way to see if your birdseed is infected with the Indian Meal Moth is to look for fine webbing in storage containers. Because these bugs lay their eggs in food, they cause food to quickly spoil.
Although these insects are not harmful to humans or animals, they cause a significant amount of contamination in food, leading to serious health risks if consumed in large amounts.
A weevil is a dark, reddish-brown or black insect with a long “snout.” Because of poor food storage in major manufacturers, they are commonly found in birdseed.
Before any seeds are processed, weevil larvae are deposited in the grain. The good news is that consuming these kinds of insects is not harmful to humans or birds.
To identify if your birdseed is infested with Weevils, be on the lookout for any reddish-black dots in the storage containers.
Why Do These Insects End Up In Bird Seed and Feeders?
Poor storage and manufacturing processes are two common causes of infested birdseed. The companies process birdseed in significant quantities, making it difficult to maintain quality.
To ensure high product quality, companies are opting out of open container storage in favor of closed container storage, but that isn’t always enough to prevent an infestation.
Many bird enthusiasts recommend purchasing birdseed from local feed stores. The seed may be more expensive, but it will also be of higher quality.
A Dirty Feeder Can Also Attract Bugs
Although infested birdseed is the most common reason for bugs ending up in a feeder, the feeder itself can also be the issue.
If not properly cleaned on a consistent schedule, the feeder can develop mold. Mold and fungi grow because of high levels of humidity. Unfortunately, mold attracts a wide variety of bugs.
The easiest way to identify mold in your bird feeder is to look for clumping in your birdseed. To get rid of mold in your bird feeder, dispose of any moldy seeds and clean the bird feeder thoroughly with detergent and water.
It is important to get rid of mold ASAP because birds can contract illnesses from inhaling the moldy seeds.
How to Prevent Bugs From Appearing in Bird Seed
The easiest way to handle the situation is to toss out the infested seeds. However, many would consider this a waste of money.
If you don’t want to toss the seeds, you can try the freeze method. Simply place the seeds in a freezer for six days. This will kill any bugs and eggs that may have been present.
A simple way to prevent this from happening again is to switch brands. Finding bugs in birdseed is common with some companies and rarely occurs with others.
Many of these large bird seed manufacturers do not have adequate food storage, causing bug infestation in their products.
Quantity of Seed Purchased
Maintaining an adequate amount of birdseed lowers the chance of these bug infestations. Having a large amount of birdseed can cause humidity within the food and faster growth of these pests.
Next time you purchase seed, don’t purchase more than you need.
Getting rid of these pests is easier than you think. After purchasing your birdseed, place the seed in an airtight container.
Keeping the seed in an airtight container will prevent growth, inhibiting any “breathing” in the feed.
Another form of prevention is by simply placing any unopened birdseed in the freezer (as discussed above). Many retailers recommend this form of storage. Freezing the birdseed will kill the bugs and prevent the eggs from hatching. It will also increase the lifespan of the seeds.
Are These Bugs Bad For Birds?
Considering the fact that birds eat insects as a source of nutrition, it’s unlikely that bugs in the feeder will harm them.
However, many bird enthusiasts still recommend getting rid of these pests to prevent future infestations. Typically, these insects lay about 400 eggs on food particles, making them very difficult to remove.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.