Deborah Waller, Old Dominion University.
Birds perform a behavior known as anting in which they actively rub ants in their feathers or allow ants to crawl over their bodies. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain this behavior, but no one hypothesis can account for all cases of anting that have been observed. Anting behavior has been recorded in species other than birds including primates, and substances other than ants such as millipedes may be used. This paper explores the use of millipedes in anting by birds, capuchin monkeys and lemurs. The three hypotheses supported by these studies include 1) anting serves as food preparation to remove toxic chemicals from the millipedes, 2) millipede secretions are used to repel ectoparasites, and 3) millipede secretions are used to treat gastrointestinal parasites in primates as a form of self-medication.
Fraser, Theo, "The Effects of Chemical Secretions by Millipedes on Anting Behaviour in Birds and Other Animals" (2023). 2023 REYES Proceedings. 6.