4 Smart Ways To Keep Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeders

Published Categorized as Bird Feeders, Birdwatching
how-to-keep-ants-away-from-hummingbird-feeders
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You like attracting hummingbirds to your yard. That’s fantastic! But no one enjoys attracting ants in their hummingbird feeders. So, how can you prevent them from entering the hummingbird feeders?

Creating a water barrier between hummingbird feeders and ants is the best natural method for keeping ants away. However, hummingbird feeders with ant moats are also effective, as are less natural methods like applying vaseline or spraying insecticides.

Keep reading to find out the 4 smart methods that are highly likely to succeed. Also, save yourself the time of attempting an ineffective trick (shared at the end) – that is very less likely to work.

Here’s How To Keep Ants Out Hummingbird Feeders:

ant-searching-for-food

#1. Put Water In A Plastic Lid and Place It Upside-Down Over The Feeder

  • Make a hole in a big plastic lid that matches well with the size of your feeder. 
  • Invert the lid over the feeder
  • Cover the hole in that lid (where the thin rod passes through) and caulk with a sealant.
  • Add some water to the lid, and you are good to go!

If you are concerned about the water getting evaporated too often – add dish soap to make the water soapy. 

As a general rule, soapy water evaporates less than regular tap water. Soap is a molecule with one end attracted to water and one that tries to avoid it, building a surface layer of such molecules. This coating minimizes water evaporation.

hummingbird-approaching-near-the-bird-feeder

There can be a risk of your hummingbird drinking soapy water. But usually, that’s less likely to happen. And overall, you would be creating a good barrier to entry for the ants entering the feeder.

#2. Cut Upper Part Of Water Bottle With Lid And Hang It Over The Feeder

closeup-of-three-water-bottles-showing-the-top-portion

In this method, we will be using the entire upper portion of a water bottle. Since the structure will be bigger and can hold more water – there will be less need for frequent refilling. So here’s how you can do it!

  • Take a big water bottle and cut it into two halves.
  • Use the upper part with the lid.
  • Finish the edges of the cut-out portion by applying heat.
  • Drill a hole in the lid and pass a wire through it.
  • Finally, pass the wire through the hole and fix it using glue.

Watch this video to learn how to create this fun and simple DIY Ant Moat for the feeder:

If the above two DIY methods don’t work for you, the best solution is to buy an ant moat. I highly recommend this ant-moat available on Amazon. It comes in the form of a glass cup with around 4oz water holding capacity and a stainless steel hook.

AMAURAS Red Glass Ant Moat for Hummingbird Feeder

#3. Use Vaseline Down The Straight Rod And Not On The Hook

Another way to keep ants away from the hummingbirds is to use vaseline on their route to the feeder.

Ants don’t enjoy walking on sticky surfaces; hence this strategy works. Although vaseline isn’t a fully sure-shot way to keep ants at bay, but still worth a try – at least ants will have a hard time crossing it and the method can work.

But note that it can be a serious issue if vaseline gets on a hummingbird’s feathers. They can’t get it clean, and that means it might affect their resistance to heat and cold and their ability to fly.

So what’s the solution? Apply vaseline or adhesive only on the lower portion of the straight rod. Hummingbirds usually don’t fly near the ground area – way down the straight rod/pole of the bird feeder.

hummingbird-approaching-a-feeder-with-a-flowering-plant-in-background

The idea is to apply the vaseline layer only to that portion. But ensure there are no nearby trees or objects that provide a shortcut for the ants to climb up to the hummingbird feeder.

If vaseline is not for you, you can also apply other substances like tanglefoot (A sticky material applied on the base of trees or other plants to deter insects from crawling up). Alternatively, you can also try using duct tape. 

But be cautious while using any adhesive material, as it can harm the hummingbird if they come in contact with it. Apply such materials to areas where hummingbirds rarely fly or use other listed methods.

Related Read: How Far Apart Should Hummingbird Feeders Be?

#4. Use Less-Harmful Insecticides As A Last Resort

If nothing works and you want to get rid of ants, try using insecticides as the last option. Usually, it is good to try an insecticide, Permethrin, that is less harmful to ants because it only deters them away. Also, this insecticide is safe to use with birds or pets around.

To protect the birds, spray insecticides low – near the ground area as much as possible. You can spray the insecticide on the structure of the pole regularly to discourage ants from entering the feeders. You can also use peppermint, which acts as a natural insect repellent.

A Trick That Is Very Less Likely To Work – Using Fishing Line

a-fishing-line-kept-on-a-wooden-platform

Usually, it is said that the fishing line acts as a fantastic barrier for ants trying to climb to the hummingbird feeder since it is naturally extremely thin and slick.

But the fact is. Ants can climb virtually any surface, including – walls, stainless steel, glass, metal, and fishing line.

You could be thinking how quickly and effortlessly ants can climb any surface. Neither a vertical nor a horizontal drop concerns them as they move on. And indeed, ants do seem to be beating gravity this way. 

The truth is that it is not magic. They have Arolia – specialized foot pads that allow them to climb to almost any surface. The same concept allows them to adhere to surfaces as plastic bits or suction vacuums.

You may also like to read: How To Keep Wasps Out Of Hummingbird Feeders?

Final Thoughts

Purchasing an ant-moat or making your DIY ant-moat is the best and safest way to keep ants out of the hummingbird feeders. But you can also use adhesive materials and insecticides with proper caution.

Sometimes ants are attracted to the feeder because you have a leaky feeder. So repairing it can help keep them from getting into the feeders quickly.

Moreover, there are several species of ants with distinct behaviors. But specifically, carpenter ants and sugar ants are nocturnal. So, if those ants get into your hummingbird feeders, it’s best to bring the feeders inside for the night.

Recommended Reading: Do Hummingbirds Like Jasmine?


By Ravi Ganguly

Hi! My name is Ravi Ganguly, an avid bird lover and the founder of BirdAvid.com. Since my childhood days, I have developed a special interest in birds. I always feel enthusiastic whenever I talk or study about them. My goal is to share helpful bird-related content with other bird lovers worldwide. You can read more about me here.