Ants aren't on the regular menu for doves, but doves do eat them sometimes. Ants prey on seeds that have fallen from trees or crops, so they are often found in areas where there is food that doves eat. When the ants are in and around doves' food, then they will eat them.
Doves use their beaks to pick up an ant and swallow them whole. Middle-sized to large ants are better for the doves to feed on.
Are ants harmful to doves
Ants are not harmful to doves. Ants are pests that can bother doves and other birds, but the risk of them being harmful is slim. Doves don't stay in one spot long enough for ants to be a threat, unless we are taking about their nests.
Doves' nests are one place where there could be danger from ants. This is particularly true when doves have chicks in their nest. Doves don't usually leave their chicks in the nest by themselves, but it is possible for ants to creep up and attack a baby dove.
Young doves that have recently left the nest can also be at a higher risk of being attacked by ants. Young doves that find themselves in the midst of a large number of ants, my not act quickly enough to avoid being brought down. If a dove survives the first attack, they will have experience they can carry with them on the next encounter with ants. This will help them avoid them or fight them off.
Can doves help control ants in your yard
Doves aren't going to be a good source to help control ants in your yard. Doves are not predators of ants. They only eat them occasionally or if they are being attacked by ants. Outside of that, doves will leave ants alone.
Your best natural defense for controlling ants in your yard is to attract insects, spiders, and other critters to your yard that like to eat ants. Many types of beetles, spiders, and lizards eat ants. Some of these are even good for your garden.
Will doves avoid ant infested areas
Doves won't build their nest where there are infestations of ants. They also don't particularly forage for food in areas where ants are on the move a lot. They do, however, visit areas that have many ant mounds and hunt for food. If you've ever been to southern Texas, you will know what large ant mounds look like. You will also know that doves fly and land in those areas all the time.
The biggest problem for doves is ants infesting trees or the ground where they are making their nest. If there are ants close by a dove's nest, they risk being invaded at any time.
How to control ants and not harm doves
You can try some natural ant repellents and killers. Silicon dioxide can be spread around ant nest and on their trails. When they come into contact with it, they will dry out and die. You can also try mixing dish soap in a little water and spraying it around areas prone to ant invasions. If you use dawn dish soap to repel ants you will also get the added benefit of repelling other insects and animals; including deer.
Ants can also be killed with a natural pesticide made from a mixture of ingredients such as sugar, yeast, and borax. The combination should be placed in a jar or can with holes punctured into the lid for ventilation purposes.
Ant baits also work well to get rid of ants. They work because ants bring back the bait to the nest via their bodies. You can keep doves away from the poison by covering it with a container, but leaving a way for the ants to enter.
What do doves eat
Doves eat small seeds, berries, grains, and insects. They hunt for their food on the ground. Sometimes they will eat seeds and berries from the ground, but they also like to eat them off of plants. Doves will fly up into trees to get fruit. They love figs.
Rarely you will see doves eating mealworms or crickets. Most don't like the taste of them, but they will eat ants if there is nothing else to eat.
Doves favorite grains are millet and sunflower seeds. They also like corn and wheat.
How to attract doves
You can attract doves by adding water to your garden. Doves love freshwater, so adding a bird bath will make them come back time and again. If you are not able to add an actual birdbath, even filling up some trays with water for the doves can help attract them into your backyard or community gardens.
Put food out for the doves. Doves are attracted to seeds, so feed them a mixture of sunflower and safflower seeds. You can also add millet spray if you have it available in your garden for added attraction.
Provide shelter from predators such as cats or birds that eat doves by adding brush piles or birdhouses into your backyard
What will keep doves away from your yard
If you don't want doves in your yard, the best thing to do is make it unappealing for them. Use bird feeders that doves can't eat from. Doves are heavier than many birds. Use tub feeders with short perches so doves can land on them.
Also, don't scatter food on the ground or leave seed that falls to the ground. Doves love to eat from the ground. You can also try using a squirrel resistant feeder. The same mechanisms that make it hard for squirrels to get to the bird feed works to make it difficult for doves to eat the feed.
Though they are not their favorite food, doves do eat ants. When doves are foraging for food and encounter ants, they will eat them. Doves try to avoid nesting where ants have infested.
Attract doves to your yard by offering foods they like. Make it hard for doves to get the food you leave out for other birds. If you don't want doves in your yard, clean up any feed that falls so doves won't glean it from the ground.