Why Do Fire Ants Eat Cow Poop? Discover the Gross But Surprising Answer!

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So, while wandering around my yard one day, I came upon heaps of cow manure where fire ants were busily devouring them. My curiosity was piqued by the ants’ fondness for cow manure, and I wondered why. Well, The research really astonished me!

Read on to know all you need to Why Do Fire Ants Eat Cow Poop? and find The Gross but Surprising Answer!

Do ants eat poop?

Ants eat a variety of foods in order to get the protein they require. It’s especially true since they’re scavengers and will devour just about everything they can get their hands on.

why do fire ants eat cow poop

Therefore, the simple answer will be, Yes, ants eat poop. The ants can get the desired nutrients by breaking down the cellulose in the feces. This allows them to survive on a diet that is otherwise not very nutritious.

Do fire ants meal on cow waste?

ants pests on poop

As you know, ants from various species eat animal feces. This list also includes fire ants. The high protein content of cow dung attracts fire ants to the area around caged animals.

Furthermore, the larvae of this species need these specific nutrients to develop into healthy adults, so the adults eat whatever they can find (including cow poop) to give their young the best chance for survival.

Why Do Fire Ants Eat Cow Poop?

Fire ants are opportunistic feeders and eat a wide range of foods. Moreover, cow feces is included in this particular dietary source as well!

Now, if we talk about why these critters feed on cow dung, it is primarily for nutrients. Cow feces, basically, contain a surprising amount of organic stuff and nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium (NPK).

Furthermore, it is also full of pathogens and parasites; thereby, cows are a major food source for fire ants, and their droppings are a great way for the ants to get the nutrients they need

Other reasons include preying on their major food supply, such as insects. When vast numbers of flies and other dung-eating insects develop in animal manure, fire ants may be drawn to the region to eat the insects and make their nests nearby.

Do Fire ants poop?

poop eating insects

Yes, fire ants defecate. These critters are equipped with an excretory system that permits them to eliminate waste products from digesting. Similar to humans, a fire ant’s body consumes what it needs and excretes the remainder as waste.

Are fire ants attracted to human poop?

Regardless of how unpleasant it may seem, fire is drawn to human feces!

Fire ants are attracted to human poop because it contains a high concentration of nutrients that the fire ants need. These nutrients include proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. Human poop also has a relatively high moisture content, which is something that fire ants crave.

Can poop eating fire ants harm and cause pain to penned cows?

Absolutely! Fire ants pose a particular threat to animals confined in pens, cages, and kennels.

In fact, this can be very harmful and painful to penned cows.

For instance, if a cow is in a confined area and fire ants are present, the ants will naturally graze on the cow dung. This may lead to these vicious ants attacking the penned animals, hatching eggs and infant chicks.

Furthermore, the fire ants will also feed upon poultry that has been injured and animals that are imprisoned in coops from which they cannot escape, inflicting injury on their way.

The Dangers of Poop eating Fire Ants

fire ants

Fire ants are a nuisance to many, but their danger lies in their diet. The fire ants will eat anything from fresh meat to animal feces, making them a potential threat to both human and livestock health.

In fact, livestock and those who care for the animals can fall victim to ants nested within the confines of the pen, wet hay, or near the moisture of recent birth or hatching.

These ants, infamous for their aggressive behavior, are a menace to small and large animals. Not only do they swarm and sting their prey, but their venom can be deadly.

More often than not, multiple ants bite and sting at once, creating pain and medical problems like asphyxia and even death for small animals or people with allergic responses.

Prevention and Control

Fire ants are a pest and can be difficult to control. Integrated pest management is the most effective way to manage them. This includes using cultural and nonchemical practices and the judicious use of insecticides.

Nonchemical preventive practices. 

There are a few nonchemical preventive practices you can implement to help keep fire ants away from your property:

  • One is to remove the temptation for fire ants by clearing manure and feces as soon as possible. You can also try using diatomaceous earth or boiling water to kill the ants.
  • Maintaining a clean barn is another way to prevent an infestation of fire ants. Feeding the animals only what they can eat and not leaving any food in their bunk or bowl are two essential nonchemical preventive practices.
  • Additionally, keeping the area surrounding the barn free of debris and tall grass will help to deter fire ants from establishing a colony in the area.
  • If you need to store cow dung for fertilization, ensure storing it in a way they cannot get into. For example, if you have a pile of cow poop on your property, ensure the pile is elevated and covered with a tarp so the fire ants cannot access it.
  • Next most effective way on the list to prevent fire ants damage is to fix leaky faucets and improve drainage if feasible. Fire ants are attracted to moisture, so eliminating sources of water will help keep them away.
  • Using barriers such as cage legs in cans of soapy water, another suitable fluid, or permethrin-impregnated nylon plastic Arinix products are also found to be effective.

Chemical control options.

Fire ants are a nuisance to many people, especially those who keep livestock. There are a few chemical control options available to help manage fire ant populations.

  • One option is to apply a product that contains the active ingredient hydramethylnon per 5,000 sq. ft. or 1½ lbs. per acre applied to individual ant mounds surrounding outdoor corrals and other animal holding areas.
  • Granular baits are one way to get rid of them, but there are some things you need to keep in mind when using them. For example, avoid directly exposing animals to the bait granules. Whenever feasible, treat an area around the penned animals at least 120 feet wide to give these sensitive sites maximum protection from ants foraging from nearby colonies.
  • Furthermore, when it comes to chemical control options for fire ants, many products are available that can be used around animal pens. These treatments include hot water drenches or products containing d-limonene or orange oil and synergized pyrethrins. Most of these alternatives are “organic” and leave very little residues, providing relatively fast control of fire ant mounds.


Fire ants eat cow poop to survive. While it may seem gross, this is actually a very common behavior for them. They will scavenge for food wherever they can find it, and cow poop is a viable source of nutrition for them.

This can sometimes cause problems for penned cows, as the fire ants can bite and sting them. However, the damage can be controlled and prevented using a number of methods mentioned above.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.