Raising chickens is like having your very own army of pest busters. They like to scratch the ground and look for food including a large variety of insects, bugs, spiders and of course, worms. This makes you wonder, will chickens eat fire ants?
The answer is a big YES!
Chickens are like the bird version of piranhas which will eat anything that looks edible without the worries. Many backyard chicken farmers like to feed their chickens fresh food. If you’re one of them, you’re probably aware of having fire ants in your coop. These scavengers are real pros when it comes to finding fresh produce. They are also attracted to broken eggs so you can bet on it that they’ll be swarming in your coop seconds after one of the eggs break.
What are fire ants?
Fire ants go by the scientific name Solenopsis Invicta. They’re known for being aggressive and invasive. They’re commonly found in the southern part of the United States. They’re actually from South America but after “hitchhiking” on a cargo ship from Brazil in 1933, they made their way to North America.
This ant specie is famous for its extensive mounds which can be made from different types of soil and reaches up to 18 inches high and two feet wide. These mounds have multiple tunnels extending approximately up to six feet under the ground’s surface. In some cases, they would add rotten logs and stumps into their mounds.
Most fire ants develop their mounds in or beneath buildings but they definitely prefer to have them in open sunny areas like those in urban yards and pastures. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised to find them near your chicken coops. Though chickens can eat fire ants, they pose as a threat especially to young chicks as well as to smaller chickens like the bantam breeds.
If your chickens disturb these fire ant mounds, they will swarm quickly and aggressively attack them. Fire ants can inject alkaloid-containing venom when they sting causing severe pain, swelling as well as localized necrosis. They can kill a chicken depending on their number and in cases wherein it can escape death; it will suffer secondary infections from the localized necrosis.
rid of fire ants
As much as chickens eat fire ants, many brooders and farmers still prefer getting rid of them. You too can do the same by following these tips:
- Many chicken farmers pour hot soapy water over the fire ants’ mound to kill them. However, this home remedy won’t kill the queen. Chances are those who survive will just relocate and build a whole new mound.
- Another strategy you should try is using diatomaceous earth to kill individual ants as suggested by the University of Florida Extension. The down side is it won’t effectively eliminate the whole colony.
- Mix 2 oz of spinosad in a gallon of water. Use a sprinkler can and slowly apply 10% of the mixture around the mound and use the remaining amount to drench the whole mound. Be sure not to disturb the colony while doing so. This strategy is best done during cool weather or early in the evening or morning.
- Many farmers also swear by botanical insecticides that contain pyrethrin. It can be drenched over the mound and though it’s less toxic, it should only be applied when everything else failed. Natural pesticides are plan based so they have fewer negative side effects especially to the environment. They’re safer for chickens too.
- You can also make your own fire ant-eliminating mixture by combining boiling water with four slices of cayenne peppers. Leave it overnight. The next day, make sure the colony doesn’t escape by sprinkling powdered cayenne pepper on the mound. After which, pour the mixture to kill the ants. You can also put some of the solution in a spray bottle to spray on the ants and kill them directly.
Chickens may find fire ants just as tasty as scraps off your plates. Remember that they’re not very picky when it comes to food as they would love to nibble on just about anything they can find lying around. However, fire ants contain venom and they sting too! Many chickens eat them but only in moderation.
Will chickens eat fire ants?
Definitely! However, these ants are also considered as threats to your chickens especially to young chicks and smaller breeds so it’s best to get rid of them for safety reasons. A mound can house thousands of them and surely, not all your chicken would be able to eat all of them in seconds. Fire ants are aggressive and they attack when threatened.