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.
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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
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
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.
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
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 
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
To prevent ants on hummingbird feeders, use a dryer sheet on the wire supporting the feeder. It works great!
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.
This is a guide about using hummingbird feeders. Making sure your feeders are free of insects and clean are important for the hummingbirds.
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 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.
Is there a way to keep ants out of the hummingbird feeder? Is there an ant-proof feeder?
By Elaine 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.
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
By Roxie Munn 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.
By Jerry from Lampasas, TX
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.
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 Jackolyn Smith 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!
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 Henrietta B. 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!
How do I get rid of ants from a hummingbird feeder?
By Sheilah Link 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Woogie Monster
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
By Doris Goehring
By Sue Whelan