The opportunistic feeders like ants never avoid any food source, even bird poop, and consume it quickly to get energy.
Do Ants Eat Bird Poop? Ants eat bird poop due to the presence of protein and carbohydrates in it. Moreover, these nutrients are available in their simplest forms as they are already digested by the bird’s digestive system. In addition, it can be a way of introducing a new population of red ants that appear swollen after consuming parasites present in bird’s droppings. Furthermore, it is also used as a fecal fertilizer for the breeding chamber and helps raise larvae.
Probably, bird poop seems useless to you, but it carries a lot of nutrients for the tiny creatures that do not have digestive enzymes to break the complex food particles.
Does bird poop attract ants?
Bird poop is a stinky substance excreted by the birds that commonly appear whitish.
It is a mixture of feces and uric acid and appears white due to nitrogenous wastes. It is highly nutritious for many insects, including ants, as it provides a good source of protein.
Moreover, they get attracted to this stinky material to get energy by consuming the digested food for easier absorption.
Furthermore, they are not suitable for buildings or humans, but they are used to improve the gut health of these insects as they cannot break the complex compounds efficiently.
Why do ants eat bird poop?
Ants can consume the droppings because of their high nutritional value makes them attractive.
Obtain essential nutrients
It is a good source of essential nutrients like proteins that help overcome protein deficiency in insects.
Some ant species have more protein requirements than others, so they fulfill the nutritional needs by feeding on the excrements.
It is an essential part of their diet and attracts them to get more nutrients. Moreover, these insects do not consume their own waste as it is already passed from their digestive system.
However, they are willing to eat the droppings of other birds and animals and are usually seen creeping on them.
Furthermore, the pigeon poop contains only a single type of protein which is 68-KD (Kilo-Dalton), while some higher molecular weight proteins like 100, 175, and 200-KD size are present in others.
Easier to digest
The metabolism rate is higher in birds than in other organisms; they quickly digest the food and excrete the waste out of their bodies to make them feel lighter.
They have to fly higher, and the presence of waste in their bodies can interrupt an ideal flight.
So, they poop out the nitrogenous waste material and make it available for small creatures whose digestive system is not so efficient in digesting complex molecules.
Moreover, they cannot digest solid food particles and need soft food or liquid material to fulfill their body requirements.
They do not have the particular digestive enzymes to break the solid particles like those found in birds; that’s why they try to find a sweet liquid source of nutrition.
Furthermore, the bird droppings are not as solid as that of animals as they have no separate system to excrete liquid waste.
It contains a good quantity of liquid, making it easy for these insects to consume and digest. They can easily extract nutrients from it and then expel them out of their bodies.
Energy source for larvae
Most probably, you have seen bird droppings around an anthill that indicates that they have taken the droppings to their nest or birds pooped there.
They usually take the droppings to their nest to feed the larvae so that they can also obtain nutrients from them to get instant energy.
A protein-rich diet is good for the growth of larvae, and you can see proteinaceous food material in a colony when there are larvae in it.
Furthermore, ants show different behavior to proteins when there are no larvae as it helps sustain larvae growth.
Introduce a new population of red ants
The birds pass parasitic eggs directly into their feces, which are consumed by the ants and cause infection. These worms make them appear red after an infection, like ripened berries.
These parasites infect birds, and their eggs pass on to their droppings. Accordingly, they are passed on to the larvae or young ones and cause infection.
As a result of infection, the black ants having bitter taste are turned into red-colored insects having swollen bellies.
This way, it forms a new population of these insects with swollen stomachs and appears red after consuming the infected droppings having unharmed eggs of roundworms.
The presence of essential nutrients and elements in the excrement makes it a good fertilizer that can be used as a breeding ground to promote fungus growth.
Many of these insects consume fungus as part of their diet or use it to break the complex food particles for efficient absorption.
Moreover, the bird poop is rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, making it suitable for fertilizer in the breeding chamber.
In addition, some people use this fertilizer in their home gardens to improve the soil’s water holding capacity and improve plants’ growth.
Attracted to sugar
The bird excrements contain enough carbs that account for almost 27% to 30% of the total nutrition. Out of these, nearly 40% to 45% are composed of sugars.
They are attracted to sugar; that’s why they consume this excrement. It becomes an ideal source of nutrition that is good in taste, smell, and consistency for these tiny creatures.
Not only do these insects consume droppings, but they collect and bring them to their nests to provide them as a food source for the queen and larvae.
Furthermore, it helps improve their gut health by introducing some beneficial bacteria in their stomach that aid in digestion.
Do all ants eat bird poop?
There is no doubt that bird droppings attract ants, but a specific group of these insects found them attractive and consumed them as part of their diet.
These include the red, black, and Pharaoh ants as their digestive systems can digest them.
Furthermore, the acrobat ants are also included in the group of those insects that prefer eating excrements and are found straying on their feces.
However, many others, like carpenter ants, do not consume excrements as they can survive on other sources and get sick whenever they consume such waste.
Do ants eat animal poop?
Some of their species can consume animal poop like the pavement ants to get protein-rich food.
It is not as soft as bird excrements but easy to digest as it is already passed through the stomach of animals where digestive enzymes have broken the complex compounds.
You probably have seen them crawling in the dogs or cat feces in their houses. These are straying over the feces in search of nutrition and eating them.
Furthermore, the black house ants are commonly seen on animal poop when searching for food as the sugars in their feces attracts these insects to come and consume.
Is it safe for ants to eat bird poop?
There are some safety concerns for the ants when consuming bird excrements as the waste material contains many bacteria that can cause severe infection in these insects.
The insects are usually not resistant to the bacteria found in them and die in case of harmful parasitic bacteria.
Their excrements are responsible for almost 50 to 60 diseases that can be easily transmitted to ants.
However, you cannot ignore the high content of protein that is also good for them to grow well.
In the same way, the presence of nutritional elements that make it an excellent fertilizing material cannot be avoided.
So, it is a good source of nutrients, but there are also some safety concerns for these tiny creatures with weak digestive systems to combat the parasites.
What is the nature of the bird poop?
The nature of bird poop means whether it is acidic or basic, and it is acidic.
The amount of water in the bodies of birds is lower, which can efficiently neutralize the excrements and reduce acidity.
They cannot keep water in their bodies as it increases their weight, which creates difficulty in flight or flying higher in the air.
Moreover, it appears as a thick white paste with little water content and a solid uric acid paste.
This waste is a combined waste of their digestive and urinary system as they have a single opening to release the waste material.
What do people say about this?
I surveyed 1179 bird keepers to know whether bird poop attracts ants and what makes them attractive to these insects.
Out of 1179 people, 814 people (69%) said they had seen these insects on bird poop, and the nutritional value of the excrements is higher, which makes them attractive.
However, 282 people (24%) said these are easy to digest, tiny creatures do not have to make more effort to digest them, and droppings have higher sugar content.
While the remaining 83 people (7%) said, they have not seen ants feeding on the feces of animals or birds and do not think they prefer eating excrements.
They prefer to feed on the poops of pigeons, parakeets, and a few other birds as they provide soft food to swallow easily.
“I found these insects enjoying excrement in the backyard when the whole swarm is present on a pigeon poop.”
The smell and sweet taste of the excrements make them an attractive food for these tiny insects that are always searching for food.
“I came to know that ants can eat almost everything, and I started believing it when I see them eating feces.”
Many people do not know that not only bird poops, but they can also consume animal excrements.
“I know ants can eat everything, but I’ve never seen them eating droppings.”