Fire ants and Carpenter ants can sometimes be found in a chicken coop. This poses a health risk for chickens as they can be attacked and bitten by certain types of ants.
Eliminating ants from a chicken coop requires constant attention as they can easily return in the right conditions. Food is one of the main reasons ants keep appearing in a chicken coop.
You can eliminate ants from a chicken coop by removing leftover foods. Deep cleaning of the area is also required. Removing decaying wood from the chicken coop also keeps out wood-eating ants.
Spraying the chicken coop with vinegar prevents future ant invasions.
Chicken coops are the homes of ants. As with any home, these spaces require regular cleaning. Without a good cleansing routine, chicken coops attract ants and other pests such as rats.
3 common reasons for ants in a chicken coop
Understanding the motives of ants being around chickens is important so that you can eliminate them and keep them away for good.
Leftover chicken food – ants like food and they look for it all day. Leftover chicken food, especially starchy food and foods based on fruit attracts thousands of ants.
Broken eggs – broken eggs are food for ants. Some carnivore ants might even eat eggs when they get the chance.
Fruit – some ants get inside a chicken coop in the garden from nearby fruit trees. Many chicken coops are placed in sheltered areas such as under a fruit tree. Fruit attracts and that easily moves towards the chicken coop.
Which ants can be found in a chicken coop?
Not all types are found in a typical chicken coop. Some prefer to stay away or look for other food sources. Here are the species most common to be found next to the chicken.
Fire ants – these ants are mostly attracted to food in the chicken coop. Fire ants can sting and chickens might be tempted to eat these small insects which can end up hurting the chicken coop.
Carpenter ants – these ants can be found in a wooden chicken coop. They nest in decaying soft wood and the wood itself needs to be replaced to keep these ants out.
Black garden ants – these ants nest in the garden in direct sunlight. They are never far from the nest for food and they might get in the chicken coop when their nest is nearby. These ants don’t bite.
How to eliminate all ants from a chicken coop?
Both ants that sting and those that don’t sting need to be eliminated from the chicken coop quickly. High reproduction rates and the capacity to build more nests means ant numbers can quickly rise around chicken. Here’s what you need to do.
Remove leftover food
Food and leftover food attracts all pests in the chicken coop. Grains are among the foods ants are known to like. Fruit and vegetables are known foods ants love. Table scraps are also commonly fed to chicken.
All of these types of food are known to attract ants, specifically fruit. You need to remove the food chicken don’t eat from the chicken coop at the end of the day.
While chicken can eat all food at times, there might still be leftovers they cannot access. Ants are smaller and easily crawl through small spaces to get to leftover or decaying food. It’s best to sweep leftovers to avoid a large ant problem.
Clean the area
Cleaning the chicken coop at least once per week is recommended. You can eliminate all odors, leftover food, seeds, spiders, and other ants many ants are known to eat.
A clean chicken coop is a healthy place for the chicken to live in as well. Clean living space also involves a place that has plenty of fresh air. Opening up the windows frequently and allowing the door of the chicken coop to remain open during the day ensures there’s plenty of fresh air and minimum odor building.
Find and eliminate ant nests
You need to eliminate all nests to eliminate ants. Their nests might not be immediately visible and they might even be a few yards out from the chicken coop.
Fire ant nests – can be identified by the dome-shaped mound. These mounds or patches of soil have a large entrance hole in the middle. Pouring hot water on it kills ants inside.
Carpenter ant tunnels – these ants nest in decaying wood or trees. Make sure to check the chicken coop itself as well as nearby trees for possible damages.
Black garden ants – ant mounds of Black garden ants are often found on lawns or the clear ground such as in raised beds. Make sure to pour hot water on these mounds to kill the ant colony.
Remove foods outside the chicken coop
Some foods might not even be inside the chicken coop and they can still attract ants and create pathways that eventually lead to the chicken. These foods include the following.
- Fruits from nearby trees
- Grains stored nearby
- Seeds stored nearby
- Vegetables growing in the garden
- Leftover food from other animals (dogs, pigs, cats)
- Nearby sugary drink spills
- Improperly stored sugar bags
All of these foods can attract ants in the area of the chicken coop. The sweeter they are the faster ants move towards them.
Wash the chicken coop with a water hose
Sometimes a good hose washing of the chicken coop is still needed after foods have been removed. This removes odors. Spills and impregnated food odors can still attract ants just as actual food.
You can use soap and water to properly clean the chicken coop where possible. Natural ingredient soap is recommended when it comes to livestock.
Plant ant-deterring herbs around the chicken coop
Some herbs with a pungent smell can deter ants or keep them away for a long time. You can plant these herbs around the chicken coop or in pots at the entrance and behind the chicken coop.
Lavender – these fragrant plants deter ants and all types of flies that can bite chicken. Multiple smaller plants are a better choice than a single large lavender plant next to the chicken coop.
Rosemary – this aromatic herb is known to keep ants away. It can be placed next to the chicken coop in the spring soon before ants start to appear.
Vinegar is often used to repel ants and kill them as well. You can get rid of ants in the chicken coop by spraying vinegar on them directly.
The highly acidic nature of vinegar kills most ants on the spot. You can apply a liberal amount of vinegar even in areas of the chicken coop you don’t see any ants in as this can keep them away.
To prevent ants from coming back you need to re-apply vinegar every few weeks. Vinegar spray is also useful outside the perimeter of the chicken coop to kill any nearby ant colonies.
Draw chalk lines around the chicken coop
Chalk is known to act as a visible barrier against ants. If your chicken coop sits on a foundation, you can dray a continuous chalk line on the foundation as ants won’t climb up to the chicken coop.
Ants immediately turn back when they notice the chalk line around the chicken coop. As with vinegar, chalk needs to be re-applied regularly as it can be washed away by rainwater.
Sprinkle Diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is a type of natural pesticide that kills ants on the spot. You can apply it right inside the chicken coop as Diatomaceous earth is safe for chicken, even when ingested but deadly to ants.
You can also sprinkle Diatomaceous earth on ant mounds in or near the chicken coop to kill all ants. A large amount of Diatomaceous earth is needed for larger ant mounds.
Use ant traps
Ant traps can be useful against ants when it comes to protecting chicken coops. Fipronil traps tend to be a good choice as they typically come with a liquid gel-like bait that can last a long time.
The key to applying these traps is to put them right outside the chicken coop in an area chickens cannot access as they can ingest the insecticide inside many types of ant traps.
Use a leaf blower
If your chicken coop already has too many ants inside you might need to consider a quick method of getting them out to avoid them laying eggs inside.
Since using a vacuum cleaner isn’t possible here you might consider using a leaf blower. Modern leaf blowers have a suction function that draws air in collecting leaves in a dust bag. This is one of the easiest methods of vacuuming ants without using a vacuum cleaner.
Ants get inside a chicken coop attracted to food or odors. Removing foods and cleaning the chicken coop are mandatory to eliminate ants.
These actions aren’t sufficient when it comes to keeping ants out for good. You need to find the nest of these invading ants which also needs to be destroyed.
Vinegar is one of the most affordable and efficient solutions against ant nests. It can also be used in the chicken coop to act as a deterrent against ants and flies.