How To Keep Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeders: 13 Easy Ways

How to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders? It’s not surprising that many bird watchers try to lure hummingbirds to their homes by placing hummingbird feeders because they are a joy to observe. Unfortunately, various common pests, such as ants, may also be attracted to the feeder’s contents.

If you are a hummingbird lover, you probably went to great measures to design a beautiful area that hummingbirds will flock to. This blog post outlines 13 easy ways to keep ants out of the feeders to prevent an infestation.

Always Clean The Feeder

The simplest approach to prevent ants from entering hummingbird feeders is to maintain them clean, just like you would with any other object. Treat the hummingbirds to a gourmet eating experience!

When you refill hummingbird feeders with nectar, you should wipe them down daily. Spend a brief period of time cleaning your feeder both inside and out as a ritual. It’s also essential to prevent the nectar from spoiling and to provide your hummingbirds with pure nutrients.

Clean your feeder with warm water and non-toxic dish soap before wiping it dry. If you’ve missed a few days or notice that the nectar has caked on, you can soak the feeder in hot water and dish soap to remove any buildup. If you use an ant moat, make sure to empty it regularly, replenish the water, and get rid of any dead insects that may have become stuck inside.

In addition to being huge admirers of hummingbird nectar, bees and wasps also have a significant advantage over ants: they can fly. Additionally, your feeder can draw hornets, flies, and moths. Nobody desires to have all these bugs in their bird feeders.

You should keep it simple when installing hummingbird feeders. Look for feeders with basic structures or elements that can be taken apart, so they are simple to clean. It’s incredibly convenient that many feeders can be completely dismantled for simple cleaning and that they include port brushes to keep each little feeding station clean for our feathered companions. 

Maintaining a hummingbird feeder is easy if you have a simple-to-use feeder. It’s important to preserve the cleanliness of the wild creatures you care about at a normal level in addition to preventing ants from invading hummingbird feeders. You will only need to spend 30 seconds on the cleaning process.

Move The Feeder From Time to Time

Ants might be deterred by changing the location of your hummingbird feeder across your yard. You can establish a routine for when to move your hummingbird feeder. Because ants typically leave a smell trail to alert their colony of a nice food source, like sugar water, this will prevent ants from returning.

Select a few places to hang the feeder, then move it at certain times. As the ants begin to march and it becomes necessary to switch feeders, make sure to place them at least seven feet apart. And instead of relocating one feeder near another one to move it, scatter them out throughout your garden.

The majority of hummingbirds are adaptable, and they can find the new feeder location. You don’t need to relocate it very far, but you could be pleased to see less ants if you try a different location. But be careful not to move the feeder too much since this may disturb hummingbirds accustomed to feeding in a specific spot.

Make sure your yard has a number of acceptable locations where you can use them to divert ants’ attention. Hummingbirds like to have places to perch or hide nearby, so if you have any little trees, they’re a great location to place the feeder. Aside from that, keep them away from other birdhouses and birdbaths.

Check out this video from Ace Hardware on how to set up your hummingbird feeder.

How to Set Up Your Hummingbird Feeder – Ace Hardware

Check and Repair Leaks From The Feeder

Ants may likely be drawn to your deck if nectar leaks from a hummingbird feeder since they enjoy sugary food sources. This appears to be the most frequent cause of hummingbird feeders turning into ant feeders.

Check your feeders frequently, especially in warmer weather, as heat can cause them to swell and crack. Nectar heats up in the sun and transforms into a thinner substance that can seep through minute cracks, which is one of the reasons why nectar leaks from hummingbird feeders. For this reason, you might not want to put your feeder in the direct sun.

The wind is another factor that can tip your hummingbird feeder. Additionally, if you rehang the feeder without first inspecting it for damage, you risk missing a leak. 

Decide where the leak or crack is, and seal it off as soon as possible with a plumber’s tape. To make sure the feeder’s components fit together perfectly, tighten any loose pieces. If your feeder is absolutely beyond repair, replace it.

Hang The Feeder With a Fishing Line

Use a fishing line to create a tightrope challenge for the ants. A fishing line is an excellent deterrent for ants trying to climb to your hummingbird feeder since it is naturally very thin, even too thin for ants, and slippery. Make sure the fishing line you choose supports at least two pounds of weight and is long enough to reach the height you will hang your feeder or feeders. 

Fishing line is rather simple to locate in hardware or craft stores, camping or fishing supply stores, or even online. After firmly fastening the line to the feeder, attach the other end to the pole from which you hang the feeder. The hummingbird feeder may be hung wherever you like with the fishing line.

This approach is advised if you happen to reside in a climate where an ant moat is not appropriate. This method is also a clever substitute for coating the hanging rod with lubricant. This removes the requirement to cover the hanging cloth with something that can harm the hummingbirds.

Avoid rubbing substances like petroleum jelly, vegetable oil, or any other sticky item on the fishing line. When hummingbirds rub against the hanger, the sticky substances on their wings might gum up their feathers, making it impossible for them to fly.

Place The Feeder Over a Body of Water

Ants are not great swimmers. Ants can climb, crawl, and build bridges out of other ants. However, they struggle in the water. 

No matter how absurd or unimportant it may seem, the placement of your feeder is quite important.  It will be ideal to set your hummingbird feeder next to a fountain, pond, or other body of water if you are fortunate enough to have one in your landscape. 

Ants will attempt to traverse a narrow body of water, but they will only be as daring if the water is bigger or deeper. You may put your hummingbird feeder over water with excellent mounting tools, such as a clamp pole design. 

A birdbath offers the best of both worlds because hummingbirds will also be drawn to it. Because birds poop where they eat, you’ll need to maintain your birdbath especially clean, just like we do with everything else we do for the birds that frequent our gardens.

Ants won’t approach the feeder because the water won’t tempt them, which will stop them. 

Buy or Build Your Own Ant Moat

Use an ant moat to defend your hummingbird feeder like a castle! An ant moat is probably the most common method for keeping ants away from hummingbird feeders. 

An ant moat is a small body of water surrounding the hummingbird feeder. They are often little water cups positioned above the nectar, though they can also be below the nectar or elaborately incorporated into the center of dish-shaped hummingbird feeders. The water in the ant moat should stop the ants in their tracks, preventing them from reaching the nectar.

Your options include a hummingbird feeder with a built-in ant moat, an ant moat that attaches to your hummingbird feeder, or a homemade ant moat.

If you want to save money on something other than an ant moat, there are many do-it-yourself options for making one with readily available home items like coat hangers, empty soda bottles, and glue. Since all of the materials are already in your home, creating an ant moat is actually extremely simple and inexpensive. Plus, you can also have a good time doing activities on your own.

Watch this video from Char’s Nest to learn how to build a DIY ant moat.

DIY Ant Moat for Hummingbird Feeders

The water in your ant moat will quickly evaporate in the summer, so pay close attention. To prevent ants from passing through the ant moat and into the hummingbird feeder, maintain the moat full of water. A dry ant moat is effectively nonexistent.

Use An Ant Guard

Sometimes, ants manage to construct a bridge over an ant pond to reach a hummingbird feeder. Insecticide-filled ant guards, which contain chemicals that kill ants, are another option to water moats.

You might want to buy an ant guard, which includes the mild insecticide Permethrin, to prevent these super ants from climbing over one another in the direction of your hummingbirds’ nectar and feeder. Permethrin is safe for use near birds, people, and pets while deterring ants. An ant guard is a little extra protection when your ant moat isn’t quite doing the job on its own.

If your ant problem feels out of control, this is safe for your garden and worth a try. These protectors are absolutely safe when used in accordance with the product’s instructions. We always advise attempting natural remedies before turning to store-bought pesticides.

Repel Ants By Using Bay or Mint Leaves

Ants enjoy sweets, but they don’t care about plants. Use plants to fend off ants. Put some bay or mint leaves on your hummingbird feeder if it hangs from a pole, or attach them to your fishing line. Place full bay leaves in a circle beneath your hummingbird feeder to act as a barrier. This will deter ants even if your feeder has a little leak.

To prevent ants from taking the chance, it is even better to plant mint near where you would be installing your hummingbird feeder.

Mint is relatively simple to cultivate in a garden. In actuality, mint has a life of its own. Get some mint seeds and plant them where you want them to flourish but not overgrow—in a windowsill, a herb garden, or even a small pot on your patio—to keep ants away from your hummingbirds.

To thrive, mint only needs fertile soil and plenty of moisture. The plant likes being under shade but may still thrive in direct sunlight as long as the soil is kept nicely moist.

Spray Safe Insecticides Around The Area

We prefer to suggest the safest practices for you and your garden companions, including the bothersome ants and hummingbirds! We must constantly experiment with safe solutions if we want everyone in the garden to be safe. After all, birds still eat insects as a food source, and we also don’t want ants to become ill.

Consider using a pesticide to keep ants from gathering close to the hummingbird feeder. Concentrate on the area of the deck or railing where you see ants crawling and the ground beneath the feeder. To protect the birds, keep the insecticide low on the ground.

Cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and vinegar are a few more common items you may attempt to use to prevent ants from accessing your hummingbird feeders. You can use one, many, or all of these to sprinkle or spray about your hummingbird feeder. Although the components won’t actually kill the ants, they will undoubtedly aid in keeping them away from the feeder.

If the hummingbird feeder is suspended from a tree in your home’s courtyard, you should occasionally spray insect repellent on the tree’s trunk. This method of preventing ants and other insects from getting to your hummingbird feeder is quite aggressive and effective. Applying insecticides to the hummingbird feeder should be avoided, even if they are all-natural, as they might also dissuade other birds.

The downside with this approach is that many insecticide sprays are just too harmful to use safely because they endanger not just humans but also birds, other animals, and insects, as well as their health.

Try Using Essential Oils

A study published in Pest Management Science found that many essential oils are particularly effective at keeping paper wasps and yellow jackets away. However, avoid using these or any other oils on your hanging or pole equipment. It might assist in decreasing the issue if you set up a little saucer or dish with some of these oils close by.

A mixture of clove, geranium, lemongrass, and rosemary, was discovered by researchers to prevent the attraction of worker bees. Growing these plants and herbs close to your feeders wasn’t addressed in the study, but you may give it a shot. Even the smell will be pleasing if you plant them in a flower pot.

According to some related articles, ants can be deterred from hummingbird feeders by using slick substances like vaseline and petroleum jelly. Some people utilize natural vegetable oils to ward off ants, such as peppermint or pine. The best option is to use a natural insect repellent, such as neem oil, which deters ants without harming your pets or nearby wildlife. 

It works, but it can have the opposite effect. The slick materials may adhere to the feathers of the birds, preventing them from flying. So, to ensure the safety of the birds, apply oils carefully.

Create a Sticky or Slippery Surface Around The Feeder

Ants can be deterred from hummingbird feeders occasionally by placing something sticky there. This method only applies to parts of the feeder that the hummingbird cannot touch, like the pole on which the feeder is suspended, for instance. It is intended to trip up ants but not birds.

This technique is based on the notion that ants dislike crossing sticky ground. Additionally, it has been claimed that the scent of Vicks will deter them because they dislike it. The ant moat’s effectiveness is due to this as well.

Please apply the sticky substance with extreme caution and in very small quantities, as it can tangle in the hummingbirds’ feathers and prevent them from flying. We want hummingbirds to return to the feeder and flit merrily from one garden to the next and beyond.

Consider Placing The Feeder In a Shaded Location

Ants won’t be able to notice your feeder’s location if you put it somewhere shaded from the sun. However, the place needs to be exposed to light because hummingbirds may have problems finding it if it’s too dark. So that the hummingbirds may still use the feeder, place the nectar in a somewhat shaded location.

There are methods for determining the best location for partial shade. Visibility is an essential factor to take into account. Hummingbirds won’t be able to see your feeder if an object, such as a bush, tree, or decorative pillar, covers more than half of it.

Make sure any items covering your feeder are clear of the area hummingbirds need to access the nectar. Additionally, since the area is out of direct sunlight, flying insects dislike the shadow, and the sugar water won’t ferment as quickly.

Don’t Use Feeders With Yellow Colors

Yellow attracts ants and is often used in hummingbird feeders to give port holes the appearance of flowers. Hummingbirds will be drawn to a solid red feeder without ants getting a special welcome.

According to Pestminator, ants are drawn to yellow but are highly sensitive to it, mostly because they connect this color with sugar. The relationship between colors and foods from ants is because many fruits typically have this color by nature.

How To Keep Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeders FAQs

Will Vaseline keep ants away?

Petroleum jelly is one of the best sealing agents available if cleaning isn’t your thing. Fill in any openings that ants might utilize to access your home. Petroleum jelly, in my experience, keeps ants away for a year. For a durable barrier, silicone caulk might be used.

Can I spray vinegar on the hummingbird feeder?

Another quick and all-natural way to clean your hummingbird feeder. Once more, you can follow the identical procedures as previously by replacing the soap and water solution with two parts water, and one part distilled white vinegar. Prior to refilling, let everything dry fully.

Will Vicks keep ants away from hummingbird feeder?

Vicks Vapor Rub can be used on the hanger rod or post as a solution. Because people assert that ants do not enjoy the scent, vapor rub is also said to deter ants from a location. This is bad for hummers since it has the same consistency as Vaseline.

Will ants hurt hummingbirds?

The hummingbird is not safe from hummingbird feeder ants because they steal their food. Ants will first steal the nectar. As you may have noticed, once at the feeder, ants arrive in their hundreds and can take out a sizable percentage of the hummingbird’s meal.

What smell do ants hate?

According to some related articles, ants can be deterred from hummingbird feeders by using slick substances like vaseline and petroleum jelly. Some people utilize natural vegetable oils to ward off ants, such as peppermint or pine. The best option is to use a natural insect repellent, such as neem oil, which deters ants without harming your pets or nearby wildlife. 

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