“Arthropod” is the science-jargon, catchall term for insects, arachnids and similar invertebrates. Texas quail guru Dr. Dale Rollins has called arthropods “MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for quail” because they offer convenient bundles of essential protein, energy, amino acids and moisture. We’ll just call them “bugs.”
Biologists have long known that chicks need to eat lots of bugs to meet the high protein requirements of rapid growth. Nesting hens also feed heavily on bugs to meet the nutritional demands of egg production.
Louis Harveson and colleagues investigated the importance of bugs in the role of South Texas quail reproduction. During a 2004 study, laying hens consumed three to 12.5 times more bugs than cocks and two to four times more than non-laying females.
Bobwhite food studies indicate that, among the 32 taxonomic orders of insects recognized by entomologists, the most important groups to quail include beetles and their larvae, grasshoppers and crickets, true bugs such as green stink bugs, ants and wasps, moth, butterfly and fly larvae as well as spiders and ticks.
Links to excellent online insect identification guides appear in External Links below.