The sweet liquid in your hummingbird feeder attracts more visitors than just your intended guests. Ants also love the sweet nectar and often invade the feeders. Keeping them out can be a real hassle. This is a guide about keeping ants out of the hummingbird feeder.
My husband made us a moat for our hummingbird feeder to keep ants out of the nectar for just pennies! He cut a water bottle in half, drilled a hole in bottom just big enough to fit the coated wire that holds the feeder on the shepherds hook. He fed the wire through, set the "moat" on top of the feeder, then sealed the hole in the water bottle so no water would leak out. Let sealer (bathtub sealer) set up, add water after dried, and no more ants in the nectar.
By Brenda from Durand, MI
By brenda2u 1
This works great. Put Vaseline (petroleum jelly) on the hook, pole, string, or whatever the feeder is hanging from. The ants get stuck while walking to the food. Just make sure that they have no access without having to walk through the goo. They have completely disappeared from my yard.
By Brenda2u from Huntington Beach, CA
It's a little late in the season for this tip but if needed, it works well. I put packaging tape on my feeder to catch the ants as they crawl down to get to the sweet stuff. Since I have been doing this, I have had no ants in my feeder and the tape still works after it rains. I have been using this method for several weeks and have replaced the tape only once.
I noticed that the ants were disappearing but not showing up inside the feeder and was wondering what was happening to them. Then, I saw a bird perched on the feeder reaching up and pecking an ant off the tape.
I was finding ants getting into my hummingbird feeder that was hung on a shepard's hook. They apparently climbed up the pole and into the food. I took shipping tape and tied it with string around the post (with sticky side out) starting at the bottom. I went about 12 inches up the pole.
I also put a Terro ant bait trap on the ground so they would be busy eating and not climb up. However, if they did climb up they'd get stuck. Also, fly bait that comes in a long paper strip that is sticky on both sides would work fantastic too. You'd just wrap it around the post and it should stick with no string. This tip is an amazing idea.
By LITTLE SUZY from Millbury, OH
If the bees are chasing your hummingbirds from the feeders, and ants are draining them, as they are mine, you can solve the problem for the most part by making a quick and cheap trap.
It won't take long for the pests to find the trap. It won't get every one of them, but it will decrease the number. Once they go in, very few will find their way back out.
By Harlean from Hot Springs, AR
I have been reading about a variety of ideas for keeping ants, etc., out of hummingbird feeders. I have cared for hummingbirds for over 30 years and I've tried just about everything out there.
Is there a way to keep ants out of the hummingbird feeder? Is there an ant-proof feeder?
July 13, 2012
I have made an ant moat from a hairspray cap and wire and where I inserted the wire, I used a caulk to seal the hole. If you can look at one at "Wild Birds Unlimited", you can go home and make one. They were like $8 and you can make one much cheaper than that.
How do I keep ants from getting into my bird feeders? I have gone to clean them out and had literally thousands of ants come out of them. Also, any suggestions on keeping wasps and other creatures away from the hummingbird feeders?
Hardiness Zone: 8a
By Cricketnc from Parkton, NC
August 6, 2012
The fishing line & the petroleum jelly did not work for me. Nor the brown bag for the wasp. I think i'll try the water moot next.
I clean and change the sugar water in my hummingbird feeder every other day and was having a big problem with earwigs and ants getting into the container. I think I have solved that problem.
I sprayed Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer on the trunk of the tree the feeder is hanging in. The past two times I have changed the feeder, there have been no insects in it.
The 1.33 gallon container of Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer was purchased from Walmart for $14.92. It comes with a battery operated wand for spraying, which is really nice and makes spraying around the foundation of the house, windows, etc. so easy. After it dries, this spray is suppose to be safe for children and pets. It has no odor and is safe to use indoors.
By JERRY 1
By Jerry from Lampasas, TX
September 7, 2015
I feed about 300 hummers everyday. I go thru about five gallons of feed a day. Ants and bees are a real problem. I hang all my feeders on sheppard hooks. About one foot up from the ground I use axle grease smeared on the pole for about a foot. Product is about 4ft from the feeders. Axle grease is unaffected by heat so even if it's 105 the grease stays in place. I have red ants, black ants, fire ants, carpenter ants and one I don't have a name for. If you do this be sure to wear throw away gloves. And yes I have a large bee problem. So many they killed one of my dogs. I have another solution for bees but unless they are bad and I mean to where I couldn't go near the feeders without bee gear on good luck. Me, I use a shop vac to knock them down. The bees are being managed and the hummers are happy. Every year my hummers return by the hundreds.
By imackeil 1
After several years of trying everything possible, I've found that liberally applying vegetable oil all over the shepard's crook and the feeder hanger itself keeps ants away. Nothing toxic, messy, or unsightly, and the ants don't like it! Re-apply once during the season.
To prevent ants on hummingbird feeders, use a dryer sheet on the wire supporting the feeder. It works great!
I have an expensive glass hummingbird feeder. The hummingbirds come to it very regularly. My problem is that these huge black ants (and they are numerous) are floating in the liquid and are also on the actual feeder. When the liquid is finished, which seems to be every second day, I take it apart and wash it down and clean out all the ants. I then put in fresh liquid. Does anyone know how I can eliminate all these large black ants without jeopardizing the birds?
August 5, 2013
We had ants crawling down the wire that the feeder hangs from. We slathered Vaseline all over the wire. Now the ants get stuck in the Vaseline and can't go anywhere. End of problem and it didn't cost a penny because we had a large jar of Vaseline in the medicine cabinet!
Put a small hole in the center of a large lid. Run the line you use to hang the feeder through it. Push the lid down to sit on the feeder and seal the hole. Now fill it with water, the ants will drown.
I've put Vaseline on the bottom portion of the pole where I hang my hummingbird feeder. I avoid putting it where the birds may land just on the bottom portion of the pole. It sure helps keeping ants away.
I have the Perky-Pet type of feeder that mounts on a post, or with suction cups to a window. How can I keep ants away from the feeder? It only takes the ants a few hours to find the feeder, and the only thing I can do is change the nectar, clean the feeder, and remount it.
I can't seem to get rid of the ants on a hummingbird feeder and with this drought it's really hard to keep a mote full of water. I am using a scrap of jewelry wire to hang the feeder from. So far it's working! It is too small for the ants to travel on!
How do I get rid of ants from a hummingbird feeder?
July 12, 2012
It is called an ant trap or oil cup and it hangs between the feeder and whatever you have the feeder hanging on. Ant traps are filled with oil and you should be able to find one wherever you find hummer feeders. 10W30 or some such is the best choice as ants can walk short distances on water.
This is a guide about using hummingbird feeders. Making sure your feeders are free of insects and clean are important for the hummingbirds.
I heard ants don't like the smell of oranges, is this true? Is there a way to use some kind of orange scent to repel the ants?
By Cindi C.
I have ants around (and under) the hummingbird feeder. How do you keep the messy syrup from gathering under the feeder?
By Margaret P.
I had the problem of having ants in my hummingbird feeder. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a couple of small plastic bowls and some super glue. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the bowl and ran the wire from the feeder through it and covered the bottom of the bowl with the glue where the wire passes through. Let it cure for a few hours, and voila! No more ant problem after putting water in the bowl! Now both of my feeders are ant-free. Cost about $4.00. Good luck.
Try putting Vaseline on the wire or string you have it hanging with. I mean alot too. The ants have a hard time walking thru it and get stuck. This is the only non-chemical way i found to ward them off. (06/11/2005)
Try smearing Vaseline around the hanger. The ants won't be able to get through it. (06/11/2005)
I tried the Vaseline last year and it seemed to help but this year the ants have gotten smarter. They seem to walk through the Vaseline. They move very slowly and very eagerly but a few still manager to get through, maybe the rest turn back. If you are going to put it on be sure to put it on thick and from every angle that they might find to come toward the feeder.
Good Luck! (06/11/2005)
I have one of those long poles meant for hanging two plants, but decided to hang two humming bird feeders this year. The ants climbed up the tall pole and filled the feeders. I heard that ants don't like bay leaves so i tied a couple to the pole and it worked, they won't cross the bay leaf. Just tie a bay leaf to the wire that is holding your feeder on the hook. (06/11/2005)
Go to your local plant nursery. I ordered through our nursery here last year and got them to bring in for me... an ant moat. (Just google this item for a picture). It works wonderful. Ants will not cross water. Easy to attach to the hummingbird feeder and just fill with water. I ended up paying about $10 each (ordered 2) after shipping and handling but it was worth it...no more large black ants to clean out of the feeders!
Last year I tried vaseline. Vaseline collects dirt and is messy to work with. I found that it sort of deterred the ants but not really.
The ant moats can be used year after year. I attached it to the top of the hummingbird feeder and filled it with water. It deterred the ants. Next time I had to refill the hummingbird feeder I did not use the moat and found that the ants did not come back because they thought that the moat was still there.
Now to deter them from my retaining wall! (06/13/2005)
The ant moat idea works. My mother-in-law made her own out of a paint can lid. Just drill or poke a hole in the center of it and thread it down the wire or string hanger and fill with water.
Is there not a big drawback with using any water-filled obstruction, namely, you are creating the perfect environment for mosquito-breeding? (07/16/2005)
By Woogie Monster
We have tried white grease on the wire holding the feeder... no luck. Tried Vaseline... no luck. We tried fishing line (they are not supposed to be able to climb it)... no luck. We have now moved the feeder to a different area, about 15 feet from the original spot. I heard this sometimes works. Our feeder fills up with so many ants, the birds won't feed! We live in a sandy area, and ants are a big problem and almost impossible to get rid of. Our next try will be the moat as mentioned here. (07/21/2005)
You know I have tried the Vaseline, thick, thin, backward, forward. I am not convinced that it is my key. I have tried peppermint oil that I heard may work, smells good but didn't work. I am now convinced the only thing that will work is fire. I love my birds and am ready to give up.(08/07/2005)
Hey Mama, I had the same problem. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a couple of small plastic bowls and some super glue. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the bowl and ran the wire from the feeder through it and covered the bottom of the bowl with the glue where the wire passes through. Let it cure for a few hours, and voila! No more ant problem after putting water in the bowl! Cost about $4.00. Good luck. Chris. (08/14/2005)
Be careful with vaseline, it can gum up the birds wings. (04/26/2007)
Since summer is here, I'm sure a lot of people have hummingbird feeders. Well here's an idea of how to keep ants out. If you have the feeder hanging from a small pole, go out and buy the sticky paper that catches flies and wrap it around the pole. It works great. You could also use contact paper, it is much prettier. Just put the paper on with the sticky side out. No more ants.
By Sandy from Bluff City, TN
A great idea. I'm going to try it (06/20/2007)
By Doris Goehring
I agree with the post about being careful with using Vaseline. I know it's said to be dangerous for use around birds - gums up their feathers if they brush against it and it's also not healthy for them to get on their feet or accidentally to eat some. I would be DOUBLY careful with anything sticky used on or around the pole. Hummers weigh less than some bugs and could easily become stuck and injure themselves trying to get free or become panicked and die from fright. The water barriers are said to really work pretty well. I wish you luck outsmarting those ants! (06/20/2007)
I found a dab of Vaseline on the hanger works great also. (06/20/2007)
I live in south western Spain and have a big problem with ants as does everyone in south western Spain. Across the road from me is a little Spanish man called Manolito who has always worked the earth. He came into my garden and wrapped old t shirts around the trunks of all my fruit trees ( oranges, lemons, apple, pears and figs) and then painted everything with old, used cooking oil. About 6 inches up from the t shirt and then soaked the t shirt and then all the way down to the ground. He told me to renew this about once a week with old cooking oil. I have done this and, VOILA! it works! The ants don't like it and mainly the snails don't like it either. (06/22/2007)
By Sue Whelan
I hung a hummingbird feeder last year, no problem. I hung one this year and the ants took it over. Any suggestions?
Sandie from Morganton, NC
Do a search for Ant-Off by Artline. They sell a bell that the feeder hangs from. Put Vaseline inside the bell. This will not harm the hummingbirds. Just hang your feeder on a longer line. I've used it 2 summers now and never have an ant problem.
Hope this helps with your problem (07/31/2007)
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Editor's Note: See ornithologist's caution below.
Tried Vaseline and gear oil and almost everything else. They all failed. My feeder is off a hanger on the porch, I used Terro liquid on the ant path, within a week and a half the ants were gone, dead. No more ants in my house either. Great stuff. (08/02/2007)
I had a terrible problem with ants in my hummingbird feeders, so checked all the helpful suggestions here and found the bay leaves to be the best. I have several feeders that were constantly full of ants and now - none. I tied two bay leaves each to the top string of feeders and have no more problems.
I put a little bit of oil on the top of the hummingbird feeder or you can put it on the hook that the hummingbird feeder is hanging from. I haven't seen any ants on it. (08/21/2007)
We found that coating the hanger and top of feeder with Vicks Vaporub is very, very effective way to keep ants out of our hummingbird feeder. (09/02/2007)
By Shirley B.
No grease, Vaseline or anything sticky should ever be exposed around a hummingbird feeder. Even if you do not think or see that a hummer has come in contact with it, it may have. The bird will fly off, try desperately to groom itself, expend valuable energy and become stressed. Consequences are that it is sure mortality.
By Guest Ornithologist
Another use for DUCT TAPE. I put duct tape on the pole that holds the hummingbird feeder. I simply wrap the tape inside out, it sticks to itself and the ants stick to it. I only put it 10-12 inches up the pole so there is no way the birds can touch the sticky tape. It lasts quite some time. (08/06/2008)
Hang the feeder with monafilament fishing line. Ants can't get to feeder, works great. (08/28/2008)
How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeders?
By smiles56 from M-ville, KY
Try tying some bay leaves to the top of the feeder. thriftyfun.com (05/16/2009)
Rub cinnamon on your fingers and slide it down the cord or hanger to your feeder, ants do not like cinnamon and will not cross it. (05/16/2009)
Re: Water filled moats. Add a drop of dish soap to the container. I use old pudding cups or other snack cups and a piece of coat hanger wire. Very frugal. (05/22/2009)
Oil the feeder post or hanger. The ants slip off. Vegetable oil works well. (05/25/2009)
I have read NOT to use oil or Vaseline the post or hook or anything near the Hummingbird feeder! If those precious little birds get it on them it can impair their flying. Google it. (05/25/2009)
The most effective method we have found for keeping ants out of hummingbird feeders is an
ant moat or ant guard. While some people make their own, Parasol Garden makes a great ant moat. It looks like an upside down umbrella, and has a loop on top for hanging on the hook, and a hook underneath to hang your feeder on. The ants won't cross the water to get to the feeder.
These moats come in a black umbrella shape, red flower shape, or green leaf shape. We carry these under Hummingbird accessories in our CreekTreeUSA store. They really do work. (05/27/2009)
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We found a fantastic solution for keeping ants and earwigs out of our feeder. Get a plastic takeout container and make a small hole in the center at the bottom. The hole needs to be small enough to require some pressure to pull the cord through, as you want it to be a tight fit.
The container we found fit perfectly on the top of the feeder (see picture below) and has high, smooth sides. Fill the bottom of the container with cinnamon. Firstly, ants don't like cinnamon and it doesn't take long before they don't come calling again. Secondly, the cinnamon coats the sides of the container too and, once the ants and earwigs are in the bottom they cannot get out as they keep slipping down.
It did not take long before neither ants nor earwigs were coming around anymore. We keep the container up to prevent this from happening again. The lid on top of the glass cylinder screws off, making it easy to clean the feeder without having to pull off the plastic container from the cord each time. (08/24/2009)
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So far I've tried the fishing line. In less than 10 minutes the ants had become bold enough to climb down the line. The next thing I tried was the cinnamon. They crossed right over it like it was nothing. I guess I'll try the moat now. (04/21/2010)
I need help with ants in the hummingbird feeder.
By Linda from Port Angeles, WA
Try spraying cooking spray on the hanger (cover the feeder with plastic wrap before spraying if feeder contains food, just to keep ports clean). I sprayed some on my mom's feeder, and didn't see any ants even near the feeder for the 3 days I was there. May have to reapply every so often, but I'm not sure. (05/30/2010)
I put a blob of Vaseline on the hook that is attached to my porch that I hang the feeder from. Just a good coating on the straight part of the hook will keep them from climbing down. (05/31/2010)
Vaseline on the cord it is hanging from will do the trick. Peace and blessings from Texas (06/01/2010)
You will need a plastic cap from spray paint or a cosmetics top. Drill a hole in the center of the cap. Insert a piece of a coat hanger wire through the hole, position the cap in the middle of the wire, empty side up, and bend a hook each end. Seal around the hole in the cap with glue. Fill the cap with water. Attach the hummingbird feeder from one hook and hang it from the other.
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We made this hanger shown on this website made from a hanger and spray can top. Oh Mylanta, it worked like a charm. Hundreds of ants in the spray can top and none in the feeders. It took maybe five minutes to make and did the trick. Thanks for helping! (08/30/2010)
How can I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder when it's hanging in a tree? I don't want to harm the tree.
By Penny from Branch, AR
Place a band of Vaseline about 1 inch wide where the feeder hangs and the ants will not cross the band. (09/24/2010)
Tanglefoot, is made for exactly that problem. A small tub will last years. Smear on the wire, holder, support, or hanger above. Ants, earwigs, any bug that crawls will not cross. Weatherproof for the whole season, heck the whole year. Cheers. (09/24/2010)
Spray the area at the location of the string or wire with bug spray. This will keep the ants off. If you feel this is inhumane, you can also buy a feeder that has an ant mote. I got mine at Walmart. (09/24/2010)
Go to Birds and Blooms.com there is a wealth of information on all kinds of things there. (09/24/2010)
I've always heard you don't want to. Humming birds gain protein and other nutrients from the few bugs that they ingest when they feed. At least this is the info that I got from several sources. Bottom line: ants aren't your enemy. (09/25/2010)
Tie Bounce dryer sheets very tightly around your hanger or hook. Ants will not touch or cross it. Be sure to replace it every so often after it rains. I've used this for years and it always works. (10/22/2010)
Spray around the hanger with cooking spray. (01/05/2011)