It’s completely normal to find little black bugs in bird seed. The infestation likely occurred at the grain storage facilities before the finished bird seed was processed. Putting the seeds in the freezer will kill the bugs and prevent more eggs from hatching.
What You'll Learn
The seeds and grains in bird seed serve as an ideal food source and a comfortable home for bug pests. The bugs will often become an issue in the grain storage stage before being produced as the final bird food product. They will become visible when they are small adults and leave through a hole in a grain.
Unfortunately, your bird seed might serve as a desirable food source for some undesirable guests. It’s common to find little black bugs in bird seed because it provides a comfortable home and an endless food source.
These little black bugs can be hard to see, which is why food storage is important if you want to prevent these bugs from getting into the seed. A critter invasion is the last thing you want in your home.
Implementing some simple habits will keep you and your birds healthy and happy!
What Are The Little Black Bugs in Bird Seed?
The most common black bugs in your bird seed are variations of weevils, seed moths, cigarette beetles, and ants. Many of them aren’t visible until they become small adults and begin exploring outside the grain. These types of bugs can find their way into any grain-related food.
Are The Bugs Harmful?
The bugs do not bite humans, nor are they harmful to birds if ingested. It is typically ok to feed birds some bugs in their food, as long as the number of bugs in the food does not compromise the amount or quality of the food significantly.
Even though the bugs themselves won’t hurt anyone, some common methods to kill bugs can be harmful. If you use a pesticide to kill them, the pesticide will contaminate your seeds and be extremely harmful to birds who eat them.
The main extent of the harm the bugs would cause on their own is by spreading to other bags of bird seed and dried items in your pantry. If the situation gets out of control, it can ruin many more bags of food than the bird seed alone. This can cause a huge amount of food and money to be wasted!
Why Does The Infestation Occur?
Adult bugs can lay hundreds of eggs in the grain. Reproduction is rapid, and the eggs hatch within a very short time frame.
The more bugs you have, the more will be looking for food, and the problem can quickly grow out of control. The grains help them mature into adults and lay even more eggs.
These small bugs are skilled at fitting into tiny crevices and corners in your food bags and pantry. This is part of what makes them very difficult to contain.
When Does Infestation Occur?
The beginning of the infestation happens at the grain storage facilities before the seeds and grains are processed to become the finished bird seed product.
Despite the production facility’s efforts to clean the product, inadequate storage is often still a reality. The bugs will take this opportunity and penetrate the grains in the larvae stage.
It’s also more likely for an infestation to occur in pet stores with open and loose bird seed that is sold in bulk. If it is constantly exposed to the environment, it is more likely to attract and allow all sorts of critters to dig in.
Getting Rid of the Bugs
If you have a contaminated bag of food, put the bag in the freezer to kill the eggs and bugs immediately. The bugs will die, and the eggs will not hatch.
If the food was for a pet bird, clean all the surfaces, toys, and perches in their cage. If you have an outdoor feeder, it is best to give that a deep clean as well.
It’s a good idea to vacuum the container or the area where the bird seed was present to ensure that all traces of the bugs and their eggs are removed. Sometimes the eggs or a tiny bug could be small enough to be overlooked, and the vacuum will clear out whatever isn’t visible to the human eye.
Simply tossing the entire bag of food in a trash bin outside can (unfortunately) be one of the best options. Although it’s a waste of food and money, it’s a sure way to get rid of the source of the problem.
How to Prevent Bug Infestations
A good rule is to watch out for expiration dates. The seed will lose its nutritional value and rot, attracting more bugs.
Avoid buying food in damaged or open packages, as well as loose bird seed in bulk at the pet store. It’s not possible to know how long the seed has been sitting in the bin, and it’s much more likely to be old or contaminated. This is the most common place infestation occurs.
Setting up some non-toxic traps for insects can help keep things under control as well.
When you bring commercially packed bags home from the store, immediately putting the excess in the freezer is a great preventative measure. It will not be possible for bugs or eggs to live or produce.
At a minimum, store it for at least 72 hours after bringing the food home to get rid of any larvae living in the food. It is ready for your bird to consume after defrosting.
Another good tip is to avoid buying more bird seed than what could be used within a few weeks, especially if you have a less than desirable storage location. This will ensure that you continually rotate the fresh and airtight food bags whenever possible.
When some or all the food is removed from the freezer, it should be stored indoors in an airtight container in a dry area. If an airtight container is not available, double-bagging is a good alternative.
All these steps are crucial to avoid infestations and keep the food fresh and nutrient-dense for your birds!
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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.