Psittacine birds are omnivorous animals, eating certain insect species when foraging. Animal proteins are good for parrots’ feathers, beaks, claws, eggs, muscle development, and body tissue repair.
Parrots can eat most feeder insects, including mealworms, fly larvae, waxworms, and caterpillars. Also, they can safely eat feeder roaches, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and mosquitoes.
Dead or frozen crickets and grasshoppers are recommended because live insects can escape due to their prolific jumping ability. Many species can jump up to 3 feet high, making containment difficult.
What Insects Do Parrots Eat?
Parrots can eat most insects, including those commonly eaten by other birds. Don’t source insects from the wild because they could be poisoned or carry harmful pathogens.
Here are the different types of insects pet parrots can eat:
Do Parrots Eat Roaches?
Wild birds seldom consume cockroaches, but it sometimes happens.
Roaches are found worldwide in most environments, including the native habitats of parrots. Some species are better than others.
The most common roach species used as feeder insects is the Dubia cockroach (Blaptica dubia). Aside from their nutritional value to birds, they can’t fly and don’t bite.
Dubia cockroaches contain more calcium than most feeder insects. Parrots need calcium for strong bones, claws, eggshells, and biochemical reactions. This mineral is very important for egg-laying females.
An arthropod’s protective exoskeleton is made of chitin, but ingestion can cause digestive discomfort. Just 3.5% of Dubia roaches’ body weight is chitin, while locusts are 20% chitin.
A medium-sized Dubia cockroach has the following nutrients:
|Medium-sized Dubia Roach||Nutrition Information|
If you want to give roaches to parrots, buy feeder cockroaches from pet stores. These are raised and kept in sanitary conditions where they won’t be poisoned or have pest-related diseases.
Can Parrots Eat Mealworms?
Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) are the larvae of the mealworm beetle (a darkling beetle). They’re common feeder insects because they’re nutritious, provide energy, and are easy to store.
Mealworms are an excellent source of B vitamins, but other bugs contain more vitamin B12. Mealworms contain minerals like zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
The fiber content of mealworms reduces cholesterol levels and regulates blood glucose. The fiber in mealworms also aids digestive transit, minimizing the risk of constipation.
Unlike other feeder insect species, mealworms don’t have sharp body parts that can harm parrots. Mealworms have mandibles, but they don’t bite.
Mealworms are among the best insects for parrots because they’re nutritious and safe. However, mealworms are low in the essential amino acids, Tryptophan and Methionine.
Mealworms contain the following nutrients:
|Live Mealworm||Nutrition Information|
Can Parrots Eat Crickets?
Crickets are from the family Gryllidae. While their camouflage offers basic protection, wild birds often prey upon them.
When feeding a parrot, live crickets can hop out of cages and enter other parts of the home. You can buy frozen or dead crickets from pet stores if you don’t want to keep live crickets.
Crickets are a good source of vitamin B12, calcium, and iron. Vitamin B12 is essential for brain and central nervous system function, while iron is needed for healthy red blood cells.
Crickets contain less protein than other bugs but have the following nutrients:
|Crickets (100 grams)||Nutrition Information|
Grasshoppers aren’t as common as other feeder insects and can be difficult to source.
Nonetheless, they’re safe to feed parrots, and wild birds often feed on them in their natural habitats.
Grasshoppers contain more protein than crickets but only feed parrots dead or frozen grasshoppers because they’ll easily escape.
They contain the following essential nutrients:
|Grasshoppers (100g)||Nutrition Information|
Can Parrots Eat Flies?
Many animals, including frogs and spiders, eat flies.
Adult flies are uncommon feeder insects, but their larvae are used. Known as maggots, they’re available at most pet stores.
A popular type is the black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) because they’re an excellent source of protein and fiber.
Flies contain the following micro and macronutrients:
|Black Soldier Fly Larvae||Nutrition Information|
The flies around the home aren’t the same as those sold in pet stores. Wild flies carry bacteria and harbor disease because they feed off decaying food and animal feces.
If you find flies or their larvae around your home, don’t feed them to parrots.
Can Parrots Eat Ants?
Parrots can eat some ant species.
Black ants are a good source of protein, healthy fats, iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium.
If there’s food debris in a bird’s cage, this is likely to attract ants. This can be harmful to eggs and chicks.
According to Chemocology, Southern fire ants bite and release venom that causes a burning sensation.
Also, wood ants release formic acid to deter predatory behavior.
Birds are unlikely to enjoy eating ants because they taste sour.
Black ants contain the following nutrients:
|Black Ants||Nutrition Info|
|Protein||39.79% to 44.64%|
|Fat||42.07% to 49.77%|
Can Parrots Eat Beetles?
Some gardeners attract parrots to keep harmful species of beetles away from their flowerbeds.
A parrot can safely eat certain beetles because they contain nutrients that improve their health and are often higher in water content, keeping the parrot hydrated.
That’s true of the common mealworm beetle, which is the adult form of the feeder insect, the mealworm.
This common feeder beetle contains the following nutrients:
|Mealworm Beetle||Nutrition Information|
Can Parrots Eat Caterpillars?
Parrots can eat caterpillars if they’re not a poisonous species.
Avoid caterpillars that are spined, hairy, or brightly colored. Only feed caterpillars you’re certain aren’t poisonous.
You can buy caterpillars as feeder insects at pet stores, but they’re less commonly available.
The most common caterpillar for a parrot’s diet is the silkworm pupae. This is the caterpillar of the silkworm moth.
In their adult form, they contain the following essential nutrients:
|Silkworm pupae, 100 grams||Nutrition Information|
Can Parrots Eat Waxworms?
Waxworms (Galleria mellonella larvae) are the larvae of the wax moth. They’re fed to reptiles, birds, and fish.
Underweight parrots may benefit from eating wax worms due to their higher-than-average fat content. So, they’re especially good for sick and malnourished pet birds.
Unfortunately, waxworms are low in calcium and vitamin D.
Waxworms are safe to feed parrots, offering the following nutritional benefits:
|Wax Worms||Nutrition Information|
Can Parrots Eat Mosquitos?
Parrots can eat mosquitos, but a mosquito contains just 0.01 calories based on weight.
In urban areas, birds can reduce mosquito populations. However, mosquitoes can reproduce in stagnant water sources and have disease-carrying pathogens.
Even mosquito larvae carry diseases. According to Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, the Swedish mosquito larvae carries a strain of the Sindbis virus.
Parrots eat insects but be careful about the bugs you offer. As long as you ensure they’re raised as feeder insects and are sourced properly, bugs can add vitamins and minerals to a parrot’s diet.