What Is The Purpose Of Birds Anting?

Anting is the name given to the habit certain birds have of putting live or crushed ants into their feathers.

It is believed that birds do this to get rid of the lice and mites that get into their feathers and bite and irritate them. Over 200 different kinds of birds are said to practice anting.

Birds use more than ants to help rid them of their itches. They also have been seen using beetles, mealworms, lemons, orange juice, coffee, vinegar, beer, hot chocolate, cigarettes, and soapsuds.

Scientists believe all these things work by leaving a coating of acid on the feathers, and lice and mites do not like acid. Certain birds place ants in their feathers, and others rub the ants or other items across themselves.

Other birds find anthills or ant colonies and bathe in them, flapping their wings around in the same sort of movements they make when they are bathing in water.