If you’ve observed hummingbirds in your backyard closely, you may have seen them snapping up passing insects as they fly by. So could hummingbirds be an effective natural predator to munch on annoying insects like mosquitoes and midges?
The answer is that hummingbirds do eat mosquitoes, and can consume a lot of them where they are plentiful! Hummingbirds have proven to be effective in controlling pests, so encouraging them could be a great way to keep mosquito numbers in check!
Why Hummingbirds Eat Insects
You may have heard that hummingbirds can eat their body weight in nectar in a single day. While that is true, no bird can live on sugar alone!
The energy-rich nectar from flowers provides the majority of the hummingbird’s calories to keep its wings beating all day, but they also need protein to build and repair their muscles, cells, and well, just about every kind of bodily tissue.
Insects are jam-packed with protein, which is why they make such a popular addition to so many bird’s diets. With their super quick, acrobatic command of the air, hummingbirds are experts at snapping up flying insects like mosquitoes to supply their daily protein requirements.
Furthermore, insects are especially important to hummingbirds when they’re raising their young. Because they need to grow so quickly, hummingbird chicks demand an almost constant supply of protein-rich food to fuel their growth into healthy fledglings.
You can learn much more about how hummingbirds feed their young here!
Other Insects That Hummingbirds Eat
It’s certainly not only mosquitoes that hummingbirds eat! These ever-hungry, opportunistic feeders can eat thousands of insects in a day.
Other flying insects like midges, gnats, crane flies, humble flies, and non-stinging wasps are on the menu, too. But hummingbirds will also eat terrestrial insects and invertebrates like ants, beetles, harvestmen, spiders, and leafhoppers.
Hummers have also been observed feeding on insect larvae such as caterpillars, and even insect eggs. The specific diet of your local hummingbirds will depend on which type of hummingbirds are in your area, as well as the time of year and what’s seasonally available.
Because certain garden pests like aphids, mites, and weevils are also eaten by hummingbirds, some people have wondered whether these stunning birds could be used to reduce pest populations.
Can Hummingbirds Be Used for Pest Control?
The quick answer to this question is a resounding ‘Yes!’. Hummingbirds are so effective at eating insects and other pests that they can be used to reduce pest numbers, even on a commercial scale!
In Dumas, Mississippi, a farmer named Robert Hays has been utilizing the voracious appetite of hummingbirds to control insects in his six-acre patch of blackberries.
By installing 25 hummingbird feeders per acre, Robert reckons that he attracts around 500 hummingbirds per day during the picking season. The tame birds have even been seen landing on the arms or hats of the pickers!
Since incorporating this pest reduction strategy, Robert claims he has not needed to spray the insecticide chemicals typically used by other fruit farmers in the region.
A Greener Way of Farming and Gardening
The successful implementation of hummingbirds as a pest control agent is incredibly encouraging news! Not only can farmers benefit from saving money on pesticides and obtaining organic certification, but hummingbirds and other insectivorous birds, reptiles, and mammals can thrive from the incredibly rich supply of food.
Can Hummingbirds Control Mosquitoes?
On a smaller scale, gardeners and homeowners can also benefit from hummingbirds reducing biting insects like mosquitoes and midges that can be so irritating outdoors during the warmer months.
If you have a significant number of hummingbirds visiting your backyard, you might notice fewer mosquitoes around as the winged pilots zip around, chasing down the biting pests.
Which Types of Hummingbirds Eat Mosquitoes?
If we’re talking about North America, the answer is almost certainly: All of them!
Although I haven’t come across any specific studies regarding which species of hummingbird eat mosquitoes, all hummers in North America are adept insect hunters, and mosquitoes simply make an easy meal for them.
Because they’re fairly slow-flying, and locally abundant insects, hummingbirds make the ideal snack for species like Ruby-throated hummingbirds, Rufous hummingbirds, Anna’s hummingbirds, Black-chinned hummingbirds, and the rest!
Other Ways To Reduce Mosquito Populations
If you have a mosquito problem in your area, you might be curious to learn some other ways you can reduce their numbers.
As well as hummingbirds, other winged predators like martins, swallows, bluebirds, and bats are known to feed on them in the air. Installing appropriate birdhouses and bat boxes for these species is one of the best ways to encourage more of them in your neighborhood.
Because mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, reducing the number of water butts and places where water stands is another way to reduce mosquito larvae populations.
Which Insects Do Hummingbirds Avoid?
It’s interesting to note that while hummingbirds love to snap up a wide range of insects, there are also some that they’ll avoid at all costs.
Because hummingbirds are so small, a bite or a sting from aggressive insects like bees, wasps, and hornets could easily be fatal for a hummer. For this reason, it’s not unusual to see hummingbirds ducking and dodging their way around stinging insects, many of which compete with them for nectar-rich flowers.
Can Insects or Spiders Eat Hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds are so small, that there are even certain insects that can snap them up for lunch! Large robber flies and the Chinese praying mantis are large enough to grab hummingbirds in flight and eat them.
While ruby-throated hummingbirds will occasionally steal insects from spider webs, larger members of the spider family can turn the tables of the flying jewels by trapping them in their webs before consuming them.
How Can I Attract More Hummingbirds to My Backyard?
Now you know that hummingbirds can reduce the number of mosquitoes and gnats in your backyard, you might be wondering how you can attract more of them!
As I’ve mentioned already, hummingbird feeders are an effective way to attract more hummingbirds to an area. Once in the locality, hummers will often feed on problem insects like mosquitoes, too.
Other gardeners and bird lovers, however, feel that natural solutions are a better option, and instead grow masses of nectar-rich flowers in their backyards to attract more hummingbirds.
Zinnias, Impatiens, Red Columbine, Sunflowers, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Hummingbird Fuchsia, Bee Balm, Cardinal Flower, Delphinium, and Trumpet Flower are all excellent hummingbird flowers and can be incorporated to encourage more of these feathered friends to visit your home.
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Last update on 2023-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Potted plants and flowers for window boxes are especially effective for drawing hummingbirds right up to your windows, decking, or veranda, where they’ll be most useful in gobbling up biting insect pests!
Flying insects make up an important part of a hummingbird’s diet. Because they’re slow-moving and seasonally abundant, mosquitoes make an ideal, protein-rich food source for these flying jewels.
When hummingbirds visit in sufficient quantities, they can significantly reduce the number of mosquitoes in an area, making conditions more pleasant for humans going outside.
If you’re curious to learn more ways to attract these pest-eating birds to your backyard, I highly recommend checking out our dedicated guide here.