Hummingbirds are some of the world’s most fascinating creatures. They can fly backward, their wings beat so fast that they create a humming sound, and they have an incredible ability to hover in one place for long periods of time – which is why it might seem strange that many people wonder if these birds eat bugs or just nectar.
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Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world. They weigh almost equal to the weight of a coin. The rapid climate changes due to human activity are leading to the destruction of their natural habitat. This has raised a great concern for protecting these birds from extinction. Human activities are also resulting in the scarcity of food for these birds.
You may think that hummingbirds have a very small appetite which can easily be fulfilled by the nectar of the flowers, other sugary liquids, or fallen fruits. However, this is not completely true. Hummingbirds have a good appetite that gets fulfilled by a meal consisting of carbohydrates and other nutrients. So do hummingbirds eat bugs to meet their nutrient requirements? Let’s find out.
Do hummingbirds eat bugs?
Yes, hummingbirds eat bugs. As a matter of fact, bugs constitute a large part of their diet. Like all other living organisms, hummingbirds also need various nutrients like minerals and vitamins to stay alive. These nutrient requirements of the hummingbirds cannot be fulfilled by feeding on flower nectar or any other sugary feed as they can only meet the carbohydrate requirements of these birds. Hence, hummingbirds prey on bugs such as beetles, wasps, leafhoppers, harvestmen, and so on.
In fact, the Hummingbird’s insect consumption is almost as high as it is with drinking nectar! You may be wondering what bugs have to offer these birdies. Well, let me tell you: they’ve got minerals and vitamins on lock; proteins can easily help them build muscle mass while amino acids provide necessary building blocks of protein utilization which will keep your little feathered friends healthy and strong. Fiber helps regulate digestion so that all those hardworking organs stay perky when food goes through them smoothly (not to mention fat keeps us warm!).
What insects do hummingbirds eat?
Hummingbirds eat insects such as ants, aphids, beetles, mosquitoes, weevils, fruit flies, gnats, spiders, and so on. Even among these insects, there are a few species that hummingbirds mostly prefer. For example, among beetles, there are certain species like ground beetles, tiger beetles, sawyer beetles, stag beetles that are most commonly preyed upon by hummingbirds. In the same way, eye gnats, sand gnats, and buffalo gnats are common species of gnats that are eaten by hummingbirds.
Yes, hummingbirds eat spiders. Spiders are one of the favorite foods of hummingbirds. It is estimated that 60-80% of their food comprises spiders. In addition to being food for hummingbirds, a spider’s web is also useful for hummingbirds. The spider web has spider silk that is extremely valuable for hummingbirds to build their nests and keep them stuck to the tree branches.
The hummingbirds use the spider web as a way of catching prey because insects get entangled in the spider webs and can be eaten by hummingbirds. They have to be extremely careful while hunting over spider webs as they may themselves get caught in the spider web.
Yes, hummingbirds eat mosquitoes. They locate the tiny mosquitoes through their exceptional vision and sense. These birds can eat a few dozen to a thousand insects like mosquitoes in a day. Mosquitoes, being small insects, are easy for hummingbirds to capture and swallow. They catch mosquitoes by hovering around them in the air and then attacking them. They hunt over spider webs and sap well to find and prey on them.
The Genius of Birds
An award-winning science writer tours the globe to reveal what makes birds capable of such extraordinary feats of mental prowess.
- “Lovely, celebratory. For all the belittling of ‘bird brains,’ [Ackerman] shows them to be uniquely impressive machines . . .” —New York Times Book Review
- “A lyrical testimony to the wonders of avian intelligence.” —Scientific American
Do insects eat hummingbirds?
No, insects do not usually eat hummingbirds. This is because they have a great speed of movement. They can fly over 20-30 miles per hour, which makes it extremely hard to be caught by predators. There can be instances when hummingbirds are eaten by insects. These birds can get caught in the spider web where the spiders can eat them. There are some insects that are hummingbird predators. Here are a few examples.
Robber flies are hummingbird predators which kill the hummingbirds by wrapping their wings around them and eating them afterward.
There are not many instances where dragonflies eat hummingbirds except in some very rare scenarios.
Praying Mantis, specifically Chinese Mantis, was brought from China to kill the insects preying on the ornamental plants. These insects turned out to be hummingbirds’ predators as well.
See the video where a Praying Mantis Attacks a Hummingbird:
Hummingbirds, being the smallest bird in the world, are a complete delight to the human eye and humans don’t prey on them. These nectar-feeding birds require insects and bugs for meeting their nutrients requirements like vitamins, minerals, and proteins. They hunt spiders, mosquitoes, beetles, wasps, and many other bugs. Spiders and harvestmen are among their favorite food. The hummingbirds have excellent flying abilities which make them very hard to be eaten by any other insects.