Can chickens eat June bugs?

The last few weeks here in Pennsylvania we have been dealing with a massive amount of June bugs. My chicken's couldn't be happier. I started noticing it when I left a bucket outside overnight. It had a bit of water in it and it just happened to be on the ground under the garage door light. In the morning it was full of June bugs!

I decided to pour the whole thing into my chickens water bowl to see if they'd eat the bugs and they gobbled up every single one!

chickens eating june bugs in their water bowl

That's how I found out that chickens can eat June bugs!
But I started thinking if they are okay for chickens to eat? Is there any harm chickens eating june bugs? Are they too big? Will chickens choke on a bug that big?

Just from watching them I noticed silkies tend to break them up and standard sized chickens just swallow them whole! Either way, they seem to have no problem eating these huge bugs!

What is a June Bug?

The Melolonthinae is a copper colored bug that belongs to the subfamily of Scarab beetles. They are a little less than an inch long and as the name suggests, tend to come out in early summer. Their main season is May-July.

The larva live underground and feed on roots and can demolish entire lawns if there are enough of them! The adults prefer leaves, flowers and pollen. If you have moles in your lawn, chances are you have June bugs as moles love to eat them in the larva stage!

Related reading: Are earwigs living in your chicken coop? Is that bad?

chicken eating a june bug

Chickens eating June Bugs

The freakiest part of chickens eating the June Bugs is that some chickens eat them in one bite. These insects are rather large, seem to be hard and are pretty solid, which leads to the puzzlement of chickens eating these things in one gulp!

Of course smaller bantam chickens rip them apart to eat them, or even fight over them which of course breaks them into smaller pieces. They are just as edible as any other insect your chickens like to eat like cicadas.

The chickens can and will eat June Bugs at any stage in their lifespan, which is good news for your lawn and garden! On occasion I've dug them up while gardening and have tossed the larva to the chickens and they devour them.

If your chickens are eating June bugs: 

  • Do not spray the bugs with bug spray. If the spray does not kill them and the chicken ingests the bug, the pesticide could still affect the chicken. Or worse yet, the spray will be strong enough to kill the bug and the chickens will eat the dead bug, thereby ingesting the pesticide.
  • Make sure the chickens have adequate grit. These bugs are pretty solid, and the wings are quite hard and will require grit to digest properly. Provide a bowl of grit even if they free range unless you are positive they have access to enough small stones, not just sand and dirt.
  • Make sure your chickens have access to clean, fresh water. They're going to need it to wash down these big bugs!

If you chickens happen to enjoy eating June Bugs and you are encountering a lot of them you can save them for later. Throw them into a freezer bag and pop into your freezer. Thaw out when you want to feed them to your chickens. They will be dead at that point (obviously) but your chickens will still enjoy them.
buckets to catch june bugs

How to catch June bugs for your chickens

If you want to catch June bugs all you have to do is set a bucket with a little water in it out overnight. Put it on the ground under one of your house or garage lights. Since June bugs come out at night they will head towards the light. Come morning they burrow back under the ground until the next day.

I'm not sure if it's the reflection of the light in the water that they fly towards, or if they just fly down to burrow in the morning and end up in the buckets...but you'll catch a bunch!

I've actually forgot to add water to one of the buckets and it still caught some maybe they're just stupid? Like why didn't you fly back out? Makes no sense but I'm just here to tell you it works here!

There are other types of beetles all year round that you might see and your chickens can eat, but they aren't as much of an 'invasion' as the annual 3 month appearance of June bugs.

Want more information on what chickens can and can't eat? Click over to read all my posts on feeding chickens for free!


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