How To Stop Ants From Getting On hummingbird feeders

Tired of ants stealing and contaminating your hummingbird feeder? You’ve come to the right place.

Like hummingbirds, ants love the sugar from nectar. Unfortunately, this causes ants to be attracted to hummingbird feeders. Not only will ants steal the nectar from your hummingbird feeder, they will also contaminate it. The dead ants on the feeder discourages hummingbirds from feeding.

In this post, we’ll go over several ways you can keep ants away from getting on your hummingbird feeder.

Let’s dive in.

1. Install Ant Moats

An ant moat uses a pool of water to prevent any ants from crawling on your hummingbird feeder.

Ant moats are available commercially, but you can also build one yourself. What I like about building a moat is that the steps are easy and the tools are easily accessible.

You can easily build a moat using common household items.

The easiest way to build an ant moat is using a small plastic cup or bottle cap. Drill a hole in the bottom of the cup that matches the size of the pole you are hanging it on. 

Ant moats also do not need any added chemicals to work. Water should be enough to prevent ants from reaching your hummingbird feeder.

Chemical free moats are also safer for other animals that may end up drinking the water on your moat.

2. Buy a Feeder with a Built-In Ant Moat

If you don’t feel like building a DIY moat, you can buy a hummingbird feeder with built-in moats. While this may be a bit more costly than the DIY moat, it will save you time and effort.

Remember to check on your moat every few days to clean and replace the water.

3. Cover the pole with slippery substances

Another solution to stop ants from getting on your hummingbird feeder is to cover the pole with a slippery substance.

Some common items that you can use are:

  • Cooking Oil
  • Teflon spray
  • Rubbing oil
  • Butter
  • Grease
  • Car oil

The slippery substance will make it difficult and prevent ants from reaching your feeder.

For this method, place the slippery substances at different points along the pole to increase its effectiveness. Apply the substance on the way up, along the curve, and on the way down the pole holding the hummingbird feeder.

Remember to re-apply the substance to the pole every few days or when it begins to dry up. Re-application is crucial to ensure that the method remains effective.

4. Hang your birdfeeder with fishing line

Fishing lines have thin and slippery surfaces, making it difficult for ants to climb.

To use fishing line for your birdfeeder all you have to do is hang the birdfeeder from the fishing line rather than the hook. 

You can also attach your hook to the fishing line and then hang the hook from any surface. 

This will create a barrier between your birdfeeder and any surface that the ants can’t climb across. 

You can also opt for a thin copper wire as an alternative. For this, make sure that the wire is less than .3mm. This ensures that the ant will have a hard time crawling on the wire.

5. Place bird feeder over water

Another excellent way to keep ants from your bird feeder is to place them over water. For this, you can clamp the pole over a water source such as a birdbath, small pond, or any water feature around your home.

Place the base of the pole inside the water to prevent ants from climbing on it.

6. Get rid of the ants around your home

The best way to prevent ants from getting into your birdfeeder is to remove ants from your property.

Baiting is the most effective treatment for removing ants. This treatment is fast, easy, and permanent.

Ant baits are a mixture of attractant and insecticide.

When a worker ant finds the bait, they take a portion of it to bring it back to the colony.

The bait will then get mixed in the ants’ food storage area and contaminate the rest of the food.

Eventually, the contaminated food will kill the entire colony.

You have two options when using baits:

  • Bait stations
  • Gel bait

Bait stations are great for outdoor use. They are sealed, so they are ideal if you have kids, pets or wild animals.

Because the bait station is sealed, you can place it near the base of your feeder. Doing so will attract the ant to the bait and away from the feeder.

Place the stations in areas where you think ants travel. I also recommend placing them around and near the ant mound.

Do not place the bait station directly on the mound. Placing them a few feet away will make it easy for foraging ants to find it.

While bait stations are easy to use, the packaging is large. As such, these are not ideal for targeting cracks, voids, and hard to reach areas.

Both are effective, but gel bait is more versatile. Gels allow you to target areas where ants travel that are difficult to access, such as small cracks and crevices on walls.

7. Place sticky wrap around tree or pole holding your birdfeeder

If you don’t like the idea of placing slippery substances on your pole, consider placing something sticky. 

You can use a variety of materials, including:

  • Tape
  • Tree resins such as Tree Tanglefoot
  • Glue
  • Wax
  • Petroleum jelly 
  • Vapor rub 
  • Vaseline 

The stickiness should work to trap any ants that try to climb your bird feeder pole. 

One good advantage of sticky substances over slimy ones is that you can monitor the ant activity closely.

That said, this method requires you to reapply more often than slimy substances.

Reapplication ensures that the material doesn’t lose its stickiness over time. Tapes also tend to wear off and fall apart. I recommend inspecting every 3-7 days depending on the material you opt to use. 

8. Move the location of the Birdfeeder frequently

Ants tend to return to areas where they initially found food.

As such, moving your bird feeder from time to time might help prevent them from coming back. For this, I recommend moving the feeder every 10-14 days.

9. Eliminate Leaks On Your Feeder

Make sure your feeder doesn’t have any leaks. Leaks on your bird feeder can attract ants. The sugary solution that hummingbirds eat will attract ant if it leaks on the floor. Once its on the floor, it’s inevitable that ants will find the source.

To determine where the leak is I recommend emptying the feeding solution and saving it for later. Using water will allow you to inspect the feeder for leaks without attracting ants with the hummingbird food.

Fill the feeder with water and try to locate the source of the leak. Once you find the source, mark it will a market.

Depending on the severity of the leak you can use glue or putty to seal any cracks that are causing the leak.

10. Clean the feeder frequently

I recommend cleaning every few weeks. For those, I recommend using warm water and a microfiber cloth or an all natural cleaner with no scent. Be sure to avoid using any chemicals or products with strong scents. Chemicals may make your feeder unattractive to hummingbirds.

11. Keep the feeder in the shade

Often, the feeding solution will expand when in hot temperatures.

If the liquid expands, the solution may spill, attracting ants to the feeder. To avoid this from happening, you’d want to keep your hummingbird feeder out of direct sunlight. 

Ideal locations to hang your hummingbird feeder are under a tree or under a roof. 

You can also install a shade attachment to your feeder. This allows you to protect your feeder from the sun without having to relocate it. 


Pro tip: Don’t use Insecticides Around Your Feeder

You don’t want to use insecticides on or near your feeder. While using an insecticide may be an easy solution for eliminating ants, they can be harmful to hummingbirds, potentially even killing them. 

You’d want to keep the area completely free of any chemicals that can hurt the hummingbirds and other animals. Avoid using any repellents or natural insecticides.

These chemicals typically have a strong scent and will repel hummingbirds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Will Vaseline keep ants away?

Yes. You can use Vaseline to keep ants and other tiny crawling insects by trapping them. For this, you can spread a thin layer on places where ants travel such as window sills and door thresholds.

Where do you hang a hummingbird feeder?

The best place to hang a hummingbird feeder is under a shade near where the hummingbird lives. This is for a couple of reasons.

Doing so will prevent the solution from expanding and spilling. Feeding solutions tend to expand when in hot temperatures. If the liquid expands, the solution may spill.

Ideal locations to hang your hummingbird feeder are under a tree or under a roof. You can also install a shade attachment to your feeder. This allows you to protect your feeder from the sun without having to relocate it.

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