Valley Permaculture Alliance

I woke up to find a dead chicken covered in fire ants.  I think they killed her.  I feel terrible, since I knew we had fire ants in the yard, although I hadn't seen any in the coop until now.  The chickens are free roaming in the yard, but maybe if the ants attacked at night while the chicken was asleep she wouldn't run away?  I've heard that chickens eat ants but mine do not-at least I've never seen them eat any.  I didn't realize the ants would actually kill an animal but after some research I found that this is not uncommon.  I've used cinnamon, diatomaceous earth, and coffee grounds to deter them from the areas where they were the most problematic, but these remedies seem to only make them move around and do not actually get rid of the ants.  In desperation I bought some Amdro ant block, even though I normally do not use anything toxic in my yard.  If anyone has any other suggestions they would be much appreciated.

Also, I wanted to let other chicken owners know to watch out for fire ants. 

Thanks!

Judy

Tags: ants, chickens, fire

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Suddenly, my sugar ant problems don't seem so bad. From past experience, I know that there are different types of ants, and that you have to kill the queen for one type...so I looked up fire ants and found this site:

http://www.grandmas-wisdom.com/killing-fire-ants.html

 

I hope it helps.

Thanks, Ladybug.  Going to check out that site now.........
For what it's worth...I highly doubt the ants were the cause of death.  However, when a chicken is down it doesn't take long for the ants to find it.  So, it's easy to assume they killed the chicken.  It could have been the heat, or a scorpion sting, or some sort of illness that killed your chicken.  Fire ants certainly aren't fun to have around though.  Have you tried the beneficial nematodes?  I've never used them, but it seems to be a good, albeit expensive, natural route to take.
Thanks so much for your reply, Bethany.  It's true that I don't know the cause of death for certain, but the chicken was fine last night and dead in the morning, so it didn't seem like an illness, though as you said it could have been a bite from something else too?  I read that fire ants can kill livestock, even calves, so that's why I thought it would be easy enough for them to kill a chicken in the night.  I like the idea of nematodes rather than poisons--I'll go read up on them.

I would guess that the sudden heat might have contributed to her death, or another unknown factor.  I feel like it's very unlikely that the ants killed her, I know that it's possible, but very very unlikely. I've read about pouring boiling citrus peels down the hole, but have never resorted to it myself. Just be careful that if you use the poison, it's not somewhere the chickens can access it, *that* will kill a chicken.

Yeah, I see what you're saying, and without a necropsy I guess I'll never know for sure what happened.  Though I've been reading about how fire ants are a real problem with ranchers, killing livestock and even people who can't run away, like babies and the elderly, so I want to eliminate them from my yard to be safe.  Thanks for replying!
I too hate to use poisons and never do except for ants, for ants I only use the little "ant hotels" that are completely enclosed. I place 1/4 wire over them and weight the wire down with bricks. I leave the hotels for 2-3 days near the ant hill and it takes care of them very well. I would be very wary of sprinkling anything on the ground because chickens will eat anything they find on the ground. I have had good luck with hotels.
Beth, thanks.  I actually made my own little traps by drilling small holes in a tin and putting the bait inside so my animals can't get to it.  The ants have already started to go in there and take it, so hopefully that's a good sign that it will work. 

You are correct, fire ants can and will kill chickens. They killed two of my pullets before I figured out what had killed them! I found out that fire ants will kill a lizard in under 4 minutes! 

I found this on killing them, safe for pets and animals! 

http://www.extension.org/pages/42453/how-do-you-kill-fire-ants-wher...

  I was able to find where they sell it, expensive, but I hear it is the best. Too bad it is sold out! =( 

http://www.pestmall.com/extinguish-professional-fire-ant-bait.html

Thanks so much for this info!  I will definitely check it out.

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