Home » chickens » Unwanted guests… time to move to the summer home!

Unwanted guests… time to move to the summer home!

Today, when I took off the tarp to clean our chicken coop, I discovered a line of ants traveling up the sides of it to the roof, where they seemed to be nesting under the eaves. At least I think that’s what they were doing. They were carrying and swarming around what looked to be ant larvae. I don’t have a very good picture of that, since I was so grossed out that I quickly wiped them off before I thought about taking a picture first.

ants in chicken coop

These little ants drive us crazy, invading our house every Spring and Autumn, so my immediate reaction was to get rid of them, assuming they might drive the hens crazy as well. But maybe not, since as soon as I removed the straw, Gloria jumped up and started gobbling them up. Perhaps they make a nice midnight snack? But I wasn’t sure what letting them nest there would lead to (bites? other bugs?) so I took drastic measures, and decided to pressure wash the coop… every nook and crack. Luckily, it was a sunny day, the first in a while, so the sun could help us dry it out. Jonah was excited to help:

pressure washing chicken coop

pressure washing chicken coop

In between hosing it down, as it started to dry off, I also saw what looked like a red mite crawling around… and that I KNOW we can’t allow:

red mite in chicken coop

There was only the one, so I hope there weren’t more hiding, or if so, that our pressure washing got rid of them. We did it as thoroughly as possible, and wiped everything down with vinegar water. The chickens were VERY curious about this process, and wanted to be involved… whenever the hose was turned off of course.

hen inspecting upside down chicken coop

Gloria seemed quite concerned about the new orientations of her nesting box, and flew to the top whenever I tipped it over.

gloria_hen_nesting_box_upside_down

hen_coop_perching

She also seemed impatient for me to finish, as she had yet to lay her egg today, so I hurried to get the coop put back together, and put it back in it’s usual spot.

hens-nesting-box

My husband suggested that we might want to move it, and when I went out to check on it after Gloria had laid her egg, I saw the ants starting to crawl back up, so I quickly agreed. Probably time to move it to it’s Summer location across the lawn anyway, where it will be in the shade in the afternoons. I wanted to leave the tarp off, to further discourage the ants from a dry nesting place, but I had to put it back on once it had dried out, since this is our weather forecast for the next week:

rainy weather forecast on iPhone

Ah sigh… back to our usual Spring weather.

chicken coop under tarp

But after moving the coop, the hens really enjoyed the feast of ants that must have been living under their winter location. That’s one way to get rid of unwanted house guests. Eat them!

hens pecking ants

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10 thoughts on “Unwanted guests… time to move to the summer home!

  1. Looks like Jonah did a great job. I’m not sure it’s good enough to get rid of those awful mites though. I hope your girls don’t get an infestation.

    I love the karmic payback – ants invade the chicken coop and the chooks devour the ants nest. The cycle of life!

  2. I REALLY hope we don’t get a mite infestation as well. You can bet I’m going to be looking out every day for them now. Any ideas if it does happen? I read about diatom… combined with more pressure washing. :-/

  3. I should also give credit to Mae for identifying the ant larvae. With all of her 6 year old obsession with animals and insects alike, I’m not surprised when she knows more than I do. They were also trying to nest under the sandbox cover. More pressure washing fun!!!

  4. I haven’t had to deal with mites myself (knocking on wood while typing). One blog I follow had a mite infestation and I think she smeared vaseline all over the legs of her chooks to smother the mites. One community garden I went to put a deep (maybe 2 inches) layer of shell grit under the straw in the nest boxes. They said the mites couldn’t/wouldn’t climb up through all that to get the chickens and that stopped or at least controlled their ongoing infestations. It worked for them so might not hurt as a preventative measure.

    And good on Mae – careful observation combined with a bit of knowledge can take her a long way. I see you have both brains and brawn in your family.

    • Wow, vaseline, huh? Might have to try that… while snuggling on the hammock, maybe? I couldn’t do the shell grit, I don’t have 2 inches to work with in our platform nesting box. No more mites yet… knocking on wood also.

  5. Love this! “That’s one way to get rid of unwanted house guests. Eat them!” I use diatomaceous earth in the nest boxes. Of which I need to clean again today. So far so good, but last year we were really dry and it looks a bit wet where you are…?!?!

    • Yes, raining buckets now!!! Thanks for the advice. Do the mites come out more when it’s wet? I haven’t spotted any more yet… fingers crossed!!!

      • My thoughts on bugs is the same as mold, warm, wet and dark equal bad for us good for them… Hopefully it was a fluck!

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