It is well known that hummingbirds feed on sugary nectar from flowering plants and homemade nectar from feeders that people put out in their yards.
Hummingbirds are extremely popular backyard birds, so seeing them feasting on nectar is a common sight.
Yes, they do. Hummingbirds love a tasty mosquito for a meal. They are known as a natural form of pest control in small yards as they regularly keep the numbers of pests like mosquitoes balanced.
They mainly eat mosquitoes for their protein, vitamins, and other nutrients.
How Hummingbirds Catch Mosquitoes
Mosquito adults are airborne insects, so hummingbirds like the ruby-throated hummingbird typically need to catch them in flight.
Hummingbirds can catch mosquitoes and other insects due to many of their characteristics. They have excellent eyesight, allowing them to easily see tiny insects like mosquitoes from a long distance away.
They also have relatively long, pointy wings and tail feathers, which let them fly efficiently and maneuver precisely – giving them their swift, agile flying, and catching ability.
The third feature that aids them in catching mosquitoes is their long, thin beak. The design of their beaks is perfect for reaching into deep, tubular flowers and drinking the nutritious nectar.
Their beaks are also excellent for catching insects as their length means they can reach the insects without getting too close.
They can also rapidly open and close their beaks to prevent the insects from trying to escape and to grab the mosquitoes with precision and speed.
When hummingbirds see an insect like a mosquito, they usually fly closer, hover nearby and eventually snatch the mosquito from the air, swallowing it whole.
Hummingbirds don’t only catch mosquitoes in flight. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, making an excellent feeding location for hummingbirds as they can easily pick up mosquito larvae from the water’s surface.
In some cases, they may catch resting mosquitoes and those stuck in spider webs by simply plucking them off.
Why Do Hummingbirds Eat Mosquitoes?
Hummingbirds have two main dietary requirements – carbohydrates and proteins. They obtain their carbohydrates from sugar-rich nectar that they drink from flowering plants.
But how do they get their protein component? That is where spiders and insects like flies, aphids, gnats, mites, beetles, and mosquitoes come in.
Hummingbirds feed on insects and spiders to obtain proteins, vitamins, and many other essential nutrients they don’t get from nectar. Insects and spiders may constitute up to 80% of their diet.
Mosquitoes are the perfect insect for hummingbirds to eat. That is because they are small enough to swallow whole and soft-bodied, so they can quickly be metabolized and digested.
Another reason for mosquitoes being the perfect prey item is that they are often highly abundant during summer. They reproduce very quickly and often appear near households – right where you hang your feeders.
Hummingbirds don’t target mosquitoes. Instead, they eat them opportunistically. They usually catch mosquitoes when they fly around flowers and hummingbird feeders where the hummingbirds are feeding.
Why Do Hummingbirds Need Protein?
Protein is essential for hummingbirds as they need it to grow muscles and maintain their muscle mass.
Hummingbirds are petite little birds, but a lesser-known fact is that they have a large amount of muscle mass, particularly in the flight muscles.
It is easy to understand why when you think about the extended time they spend hovering and flying rapidly from flower to flower – almost continually using muscles.
Do Hummingbirds Control Mosquitoes?
If you have an out-of-control mosquito population in your yard, you could rely on hummingbirds to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the area.
Hummingbirds have a ferocious appetite as they need to maintain their high-speed metabolic rate.
They can eat between one and three times their body weight in insects daily. That means they can eat hundreds of mosquitoes and other insects in a single day.
The fact that they eat so many insects makes their mosquito-controlling abilities sound promising. However, you will need to have many hummingbirds regularly visiting your yard for them to be effective.
Another consideration is that hummingbirds feed on other insects, so they aren’t guaranteed only to eat mosquitoes.
If you have a wild yard environment, then you could rely on other mosquito predators such as nighthawks, swallows, warblers, woodpeckers, wrens, and orioles to help control the local mosquito population.
Unfortunately, mosquitoes are often so abundant during summer that the predators make little difference to their population size.
When natural pest control systems don’t work, the other option is to use pesticides to kill mosquitoes. However, using pesticides damages the environment and is not recommended unless it is vital.
Relying on birds like hummingbirds is far safer for the environment than chemicals since the chemicals may harm other creatures in your yard.
Overall, hummingbirds can control a small mosquito population in a small area, but a large area with an out-of-control population would be too big of a task for tiny hummingbirds to make a difference.
As long as you have a balanced ecosystem in your yard, the mosquitoes shouldn’t breed out of control, and the hummingbirds should be able to control the mosquito population with the help of other mosquito-eating animals.
Hummingbirds are a glamorous group of birds that have a surprisingly large appetite. They can eat up to three times their body weight in various insects each day, in addition, to the essential nectar.
When it comes to eating mosquitoes, hummingbirds are ideally suited to eat them and can even catch them efficiently while airborne.
In a small yard, they may control the mosquito population as they do their daily activities and dazzle observers.