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Keeping Ants Out of the Hummingbird Feeder

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Hummingbird perched on a feeder.

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.


Solutions: Keeping Ants Out of the Hummingbird Feeder

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Keeping Ants Away From Bird Feeder

A 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

Tip: Vaseline To Keep Ants Out of Hummingbird Feeders

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

Tip: Trapping Pests Near Your Hummingbird Feeder

feeder trap 2If 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.

  1. Take a used water bottle or soda bottle and paint several dots around the bottle about 2 inches or so above the bottom. I used a red Sharpie.

  2. Heat a sharp instrument and punch small holes in the middle of each hole, making is just big enough for the insects to enter. I used a metal ice pick for this step. Also put a couple holes in the cap.

  3. Cut a piece of dental floss about 5 inches long, thread it through the holes in the cap, and knot it to form a loop to hang the trap.

  4. Pour a little nectar in the bottle, or a little fruit juice.

  5. Twist the cap on and hang it near your feeders.

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

Tip: Protecting Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbird Feeder With BeesI 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.


Tip: Keeping Ants out of Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird Feeder

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.


  • 1 piece packaging tape
  • 1 piece Scotch tape


  1. Use a piece of Scotch tape to tape the end of packaging tape to the feeder to hold it in place as you pull the packaging tape, sticky side up, around the bottle.
  2. Hummingbird Feeder
  3. Overlap the packaging tape where the scotch tape is and make your cut. The tape should be sticky all around with no bridges for the ants to cross. I place a little piece of popsicle stick on the packaging tape before making the cut so I don't lose the end of the tape.

By Litter Gitter [145]

Tip: Shipping Tape To Deter Ants

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 A hummingbird feeder on a shepard's hook. Base of hummingbird feeder with shipping tape to deter ants.

Tip: Oil to Keep Ants Out of Hummingbird Feeder

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.

    By imackeil [1]

    Tip: Keeping Ants Out of the Hummingbird Feeder

    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.

    By JP from South Beach, OR

    Tip: Stop Ants on Hummingbird Feeders

    To prevent ants on hummingbird feeders, use a dryer sheet on the wire supporting the feeder. It works great!

      By nighthawk.779 [1]

      Tip: Deterring Insects from Hummingbird Feeder

      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 Litter Gitter [145]

        Using Hummingbird Feeders

        Hummingbird FeederThis is a guide about using hummingbird feeders. Making sure your feeders are free of insects and clean are important for the hummingbirds.


        Tip: Vaseline to Keep Ants Out of Hummingbird Feeder

        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.

        By Ruby

        Tip: Ants and Hummingbird Feeders

        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.

        By Connie from MO

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        Here are questions related to Keeping Ants Out of the Hummingbird Feeder.

        Question: Ants in Hummingbird Feeder

        Is there a way to keep ants out of the hummingbird feeder? Is there an ant-proof feeder?

        Thank you.

        By Kathy


        Most Recent Answer

        By Elaine [173]07/13/2012

        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.

        Question: Ants and Wasps in Bird Feeders

        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

        Most Recent Answer

        By Roxie Munn [2]08/06/2012

        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.

        Question: Keeping Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeders

        How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeders?

        By Jerry from Lampasas, TX

        Most Recent Answer

        By phorcliff09/07/2015

        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.

        Question: Ants on Hummingbird Feeder

        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?

        By Joyce

        Most Recent Answer

        By Jackolyn Smith [17]08/05/2013

        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!

        Question: Keeping Ants Out of Perky-Pet Hummingbird Feeder

        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.

        By Richard

        Most Recent Answer

        By Henrietta B. [7]08/20/2012

        Hi! I use Vaseline around the holes of the feeder, it keeps ants away as well as yellow jackets. The only thing is it does melt so just replace frequently!

        Question: Ants in Hummingbird Feeder

        How do I get rid of ants from a hummingbird feeder?

        By Sally

        Most Recent Answer

        By Sheilah Link [5]07/12/2012

        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.

        Question: Keeping Ants Out of Hummingbird Feeders

        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.

        Question: Ants Around Hummingbird Feeder

        I have ants around (and under) the hummingbird feeder. How do you keep the messy syrup from gathering under the feeder?

        By Margaret P.


        Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

        Archive: A Remedy for Ants in the Hummingbird Feeder

        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.

        By Chris

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        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)

        By Kat

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        Try smearing Vaseline around the hanger. The ants won't be able to get through it. (06/11/2005)

        By seagrape

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        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)

        By Connie

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        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)

        By LEONA

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        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 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)

        By valleyrimgirl

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        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. (06/14/2005)

        By firemanswife90

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        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

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        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)

        By mamajuice43

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        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)

        By Marcie

        RE: How do I keep ants out of my hummingbird feeder?

        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)

        By overcj

        RE: A Remedy for Ants in the Hummingbird Feeder

        Be careful with vaseline, it can gum up the birds wings. (04/26/2007)

        By birdlover

        Archive: A Remedy for Ants in the Hummingbird Feeder

        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

        More Answers:

        RE: A Remedy for Ants in the Hummingbird Feeder

        A great idea. I'm going to try it (06/20/2007)

        By Doris Goehring

        RE: A Remedy for Ants in the Hummingbird Feeder

        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)

        By bd

        RE: A Remedy for Ants in the Hummingbird Feeder

        I found a dab of Vaseline on the hanger works great also. (06/20/2007)

        By okscooter

        RE: A Remedy for Ants in the Hummingbird Feeder

        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