Do Chickens Eat Carpenter Ants? Will They Harm Your Flock?

Ants are everywhere, and if not taken care of, certain types of ants can cause a lot of damage to your yard or structures. Carpenter ants are prevalent in most American yards and are a lot bigger than most other ants. These ants hollow out wood for their nests and are known for ruining wooden structures. 

If you notice these around your yard, you might be wondering if you can let your chickens eat them. Chickens love to try new foods, and you might even notice them foraging around in your yard for some. If the chickens find any of those ants, will they even eat them?

Do Chickens Eat Carpenter Ants

Yes, chickens can, and will, eat carpenter ants. Chickens love pecking at the ground for ants and insects as these are part of their natural diet and perfectly safe for them to eat. These birds will eat various types of ants, not just carpenter ants. 

Here’s a video of chickens eating a colony of ants they find on a piece of plywood.

Chickens love eating ants and will eat them from your garden, in the coop, or anywhere else they can find them. However, not all ants are safe and it’s important to know why you shouldn’t let you chickens eat too many.

What Are Carpenter Ants

There are several different species of carpenter ants, although they all look about the same. Carpenter ants are bigger than most other ants species, and most of them even have wings; don’t worry though, they are easily distinguishable from termites. Although they can vary a little in color depending on their species, they are usually almost entirely black.

The average size of carpenter ants is around one-fourth of an inch; however, some can grow up to a half-inch long. Your chickens might seek them out more as a larger snack than other ant species because of their size.

Carpenter ants appear mostly in the spring and fall in large numbers. Some chickens love eating these little insects while others couldn’t care less for them, but it is perfectly safe for your chickens to eat them.

Will Chickens Forage for Ants?

Chickens love to forage for food. They instinctually scratch or peck at the ground searching for bugs and other insects. Most of these little critters are right on top of the soil or just beneath, making them the perfect snack for your chickens.

The Jungle Fowl is said to be the original breed of all types of domesticated chickens. These birds are smaller than our chickens and are native to south and southeast Asia. To understand what chickens naturally eat, we need to access the diet of these wildfowl.

According to Poultry Feed Formulation, the chicken’s natural diet includes ants, termites, worms, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders, millipedes, and any other insect or bug they can manage to catch. Bugs and insects are the most important foods in a chicken’s diet as they contain lots of protein and other nutrients that wild chickens need to be healthy and active.

Just make sure your chickens don’t get into any fire ant nests. Although it’s safe if they eat a few, there is always a chance they could get stung by some. Fire ants in large numbers can seriously injure or even kill your chickens. If you notice fire ants in your yard, it’s best to exterminate them to prevent any injury to you or your flock.

So, not only can our domesticated chickens snack on ants, but they are also a part of their natural diet and are perfectly safe and healthy for them to eat.

The Dangers Of Eating Ants and Bugs

There are some dangers to letting your chickens peck bugs and insects out of the soil. They claim that bugs and insects can contain internal parasites that could be passed on to your chickens. The most common parasites that chickens get are worms like tapeworms, roundworms, and cecal worms.


Tapeworms are usually white and can get up to a foot long. Different types of tapeworms will live in other parts of your chicken’s intestinal tract. There are more than 4,000 different species of tapeworms that can affect a wide range of animals. 

Tapeworms lay their eggs inside your chicken, making them hard to get rid of. 


Roundworms are the most common parasite chickens can get. These worms also live inside your chicken’s digestive tract and gradually degrade their intestines, and cause other diseases. 

These are the most common intestinal parasites found in free-range and backyard chickens. Roundworms are a yellowish-white color that can grow up to 115 mm (4.5 inches) in length)

Cecal Worms

Cecal worms themselves won’t cause too much harm but can pass on other diseases to your chickens. Cecal worms live in your chicken’s cecal pouch, which is located in their small intestine. These are small whitish worms that can be 1.5 cm in length. 

Whatever the worm may be, if you notice any in your chicken’s droppings, it’s important that you seek veterinary help as soon as possible to prevent further harm or the spread of more diseases.

Do Chickens Eat Other Types of Ants?

Several types of ants are found in the United States, and they are:

  • Carpenter
  • Fire Ants
  • Pharaoh’s Ant
  • Sugar Ants
  • Thief Ants
  • Harvester Ants
  • Black House Ant

Chickens will eat most types of ants they come into contact with, and it should be safe. The species you should be concerned with and pest control company or remove them yourself are fire ants. 

Can My Chickens Eat Too Many Ants?

While it’s possible, it likely won’t happen. As long as you’re feeding your chickens a highly quality food and not just letting them eat ants, they likely won’t be able to eat too many.

If you’re concerned about them eating too many, then consider getting rid of the ants yourself or hiring a professional. You can also feed them other healthy snacks like earthworms, fruits, and vegetables.

Why Won’t My Chickens Eat Ants?

Maybe your chickens don’t find ants tasty and prefer other foods? It could be the ants bite them on the inside before they can swallow them? There could be several reasons your chickens don’t eat ants.

If they’ve had a bad experience with eating ants, they likely won’t be quick to eat them again, especially, if ants are not their only food source.


Not only can your chicken eat carpenter ants, but ants are also a part of their natural diet. Wild chickens eat all kinds of bugs and insects, including ants, worms, termites, and grasshoppers. This makes them perfectly safe and even healthy for your chickens to search around for and snack on.

Carpenter ants are black looking and can grow up to a half-inch long. They are very common in North American yards and are known for hollowing out moist wood for nesting and can ruin some of your wooden structures. Allowing your chickens to eat these pesky bugs might save you some money and time.

Some of your chickens will love to eat carpenter ants and other insects, while others might prefer their feed or other treats. It just depends on what your flock likes.

Some sources warn that even though insects are safe for chickens, there is always a chance that the bugs could pass on infections, diseases, or parasites to your chickens. 

As long as you don’t notice any worms in your chickens’ poop or notice your chickens acting sick or lethargic, it should be safe to continue to allow your chickens to forage around in your yard and eat ants and other bugs.