Do Squirrels Eat Bugs? Do They Control Insects

Most homeowners know the struggle of keeping squirrels out of their bird feeder. But it might get you wondering if squirrels sustain themselves on a vegetarian-only diet or if they also eat bugs.

Squirrels are omnivores, so they eat bugs, but they aren’t their preferred food. We’ll explore some bugs you may see squirrels eat and the types of food they gravitate to instead.

Situations When a Squirrel Eats Bugs

Do Squirrels Eat Bugs?

Despite their seemingly high-energy ways when you watch them run around your yard, squirrels have a biological instinct to save energy when finding food (hence them hanging out on your bird feeder or peach tree).

So, if a squirrel happens to be near an insect crawling by them, there’s a decent chance they may grab it—just as long as a tasty seed or fungus isn’t also within reach.

That said, in times of food shortages, squirrels will go out of their way to eat bugs no matter how hard they are to catch.

Furthermore, baby squirrels are playful creatures. So, they sometimes seek out bugs to play with, either batting the insect around until it dies or popping it in their mouth for fun.

Bugs That Squirrels Eat

Do Squirrels Eat Bugs?

You now know that squirrels will eat bugs when they’re in a bind or it’s convenient for them. Below are some examples of the types of insects they’ll eat:

  • Grubs
  • Snails
  • Crickets
  • Spiders
  • Mealworms
  • Caterpillars

It’s unlikely you’ll see a squirrel hanging out by an ant hill and popping them in their mouths. So, if such situations arise, you can bet that food is scarce. 

Nutrient Content in Bugs

Although mother nature hasn’t wired squirrels to choose bugs over many plant-based foods, squirrels will receive a boost of nutrients when eating insects. 

The exact nutrient composition depends on the bug, but below are some examples of what they often contain:

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Vitamins
  • Monounsaturated fat

Other Non-Vegetarian Foods Squirrels Eat

Bugs aren’t the only food category that makes squirrels omnivores. Instead, they’ll also eat larger sources of animal protein.

Eggs are a food that squirrels tend to gravitate to when they’re seeking a protein boost. However, it isn’t unheard of to see a squirrel eating a baby snake or bird if they don’t have any other food available.

But when thinking about a squirrel’s eating habits, whether it’s eating insects or meat, it’s worth noting that these animals are better at foraging than hunting. 

So, if they choose to eat non-vegetarian food, they often look for the path of least resistance, such as an injured or recently dead bug or baby snake. Although squirrels are decent swimmers, don’t expect them to grab a fish to eat.

A Squirrel’s Favorite Food

Squirrels gravitate towards vegetarian foods high in protein, sugar, and other nutrients. Examples of their favorite foods include:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fungi
  • Fruit
  • Flower buds

A squirrel can get all the nutrition they need from such plants. So, if you live in an area where vegetarian squirrel foods are abundant, don’t be surprised if you never see them eating bugs.

The Bottom Line

Squirrels will eat bugs, but it isn’t their first choice. So, if you were hoping squirrels would help control the bug infestation in your garden, there’s a higher chance that they’ll eat the buds on your fruit trees and vegetable plants rather than the insects.