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What are the differences between live and dried mealworms?

Mealworms are a nutritious addition to your bird feeders. They are a much-needed source of protein, especially during the winter months, when the ground is frozen, and during breeding season, when birds are trying to feed their young. Many birds enjoy them – particularly robins, tits, wrens and blackbirds.

However, mealworms are not actually worms at all, but are the larvae of the Tenebrio molitor beetle. Read on to find out the differences between live and dried mealworms and the benefits of each.

What’s the difference?

As the name suggests, live mealworms are still alive in their pre-beetle form, whereas dried mealworms have been dried by either heating or freeze-drying.


Live mealworms, like most fresh produce, will provide a little bit more nutritional value to birds, but only marginally. It should also be noted that dried mealworms must be soaked before feeding them to birds, but only for 30 minutes or so.

Storage and usage

When it comes to storing and looking after mealworms, the dried variety is certainly easier. Live mealworms require a specific environment, and there is always the risk of escape from whatever container you’re using. Dried mealworms, however, will stay where you put them, and they can be easily mixed with other bird food, like seeds and nuts.

In summary, there are few differences between serving up live or dried mealworms, but if you want a hassle-free option – or if the handling of wriggling mealworms is off-putting –the dried variety is probably the best option.

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