Note: This method of keeping ants out of your hummingbird feeder is no longer recommended. You can find more useful ways to keep ants out of your feeders here: Keepings Ants Out of Your Hummingbird Feeder
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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
Sorry, but I do not like the vaseline anywhere near hummingbirds. Hummers do not have the right equipment to remove it from their wings if they come in contact with it. As they may well, with their energetic flights and fights around feeders. It coats their feathers & beaks, causing distress, hampered flying and possible digestion and body temperature problems. Buy a feeder with a water moat on the top or make your own with a lid. Poke a small hole through the lid, slip on the "moat" to the top, and add water.
I agree that the Vaseline should not be where the birds may contact the grease; however, I have put the Vaseline near where the hanger is attached to my house. The birds could not get close to the grease so that avoids that problem. The Vaseline has worked extremely well and there have been NO ants on the hanging platform.
This is a very old post, but I hope you are no longer using this method. The hummingbirds eat ants, they are largely insectivores birds, use nectar for energy, and they would come in contact with the vaseline when going after the ants!
Please DO NOT USE VASELINE OR OIL NEAR HUMMINGBIRDS FEEDERS!
YOU WILL KILL THEM!
Do not use vasoline, grease, cooking oils or any kind of solvents as an ant barrier. Especially not a product called tree tanglefoot also marketed as a barrier. These items are kniwn to kill hummingbirds. They bump into feeders and hooks or poles frequently for a sip of nectar and they cannot remove these products from their feathers!
Preening spreads the vasoline, etc. Look at this hummingbirds face full of vasoline in the picture below. What happens is they can no longer keep warm or fly. They die a slow death.
Birds have been found glued to trees with tanglefoot barrier causing wing and feather loss. I can post pictues of a featherless hummingbird that died thus week in rescue.
Only use a water moat as a barrier. DON'T use Vasoline!
I tried the Petroleum jelly trick and my ants loved it so I went to Birds Unlimited store and bought an ant mote, much like the ladies above, and have had no more problems. They are not expensive. If there is not a store in your area check out their web site. Also I see a lot of red coloring in the bird feeders and wanted you to know the red dye is very harmful to the humming birds. I make my own by putting 4 cups of water in a pan and add 1 cup of sugar and bring it to a boil then let it cool to room temp and use that. Do not add color. My feeder is red and that is all it needs.
Vaseline on pole or string of feeder is dangerous for hummingbirds. They can actually become stuck to the Vaseline, and it gets on feathers.
Please NO VASELINE. Please please do not spray your feeders with Pam spray. Don't put any oils, Vicks Vapor Rub, Pam Cooking Spray, Duct Tape, Off, Skin-so-soft, or Vaseline on your hummingbird feeder. These may work slightly. However, hummingbirds have a tendency to fly around frantically and bump into feeders quite often. They also land on shepards hooks and if there is oily stuff or duct tape on the feeder, it can get into the feathers. The hummingbirds will have a hard time getting it off and it's not all that good for them. They can't get it off their feathers and it will lead to hypothermia and death. Plus, most of these items will melt in the heat making goo run all over the place. Please don't use these items.
I did this on the shephard's hook that I hung my feeder on. I smeared vaseline on the pole starting about an inch from the ground, up about 4 inches. I have never seen any hummingbird down that close to the ground, so I'm not too worried about the birds getting greasy. Works really well to keep the ants out!
Have had no luck with the Vaseline. The are just marching right through it to the feeder!
Our feeder is hung from the eave with a bungi cord. I wiped a little Vaseline on the cord and hook; no ants have crossed the barrier and I have yet to see a bird near it. Our visitors have increased over time and none has been interested in any spot but the feeding ports.
I put vaseline real heavy on the hooks to the feeders but in 48 hours the ants were snowboarding over it. Some get stuck but never the less the ants won again. It was a messy job putting the vaseline on the hooks and around the top of the feeders. The hooks are two feet long and hang from the porch and they are thick with vaseline now. What a mess to have to clean up.
Doesn't work well. Anta still wade through it.
tried it but after about a week ants were crossing over Vaseline--NO GOOD
THis worked for my hummingbird feeder for years, but for some reason not this year.
You must have small ants because i have the big BLACK ants and i tried this. I even put the vaseline on THICK and still watched them walk right over the vaseline to get to the feeder! I am just so discouraged!
Didn't work for my tried this the big black ants just walked right through it
Keep oil and Vaseline on the base of the pole - DO NOT put anywhere the birds might come in contact with it. It can get on their feathers and they can't preen it off. Just think oil spill and coated birds dying.
As the vaseline hardens over a few days the ants just begin to simlpy walk over it, very frustrating.
Hummingbirds will land on that cord. Please NO VASELINE. Please please do not spray your feeders with Pam spray. Don't put any oils, Vicks Vapor Rub, Pam Cooking Spray, Duct Tape, Off, Skin-so-soft, or Vaseline on your hummingbird feeder. These may work slightly. However, hummingbirds have a tendency to fly around frantically and bump into feeders quite often. They also land on shepards hooks and if there is oily stuff or duct tape on the feeder, it can get into the feathers. The hummingbirds will have a hard time getting it off and it's not all that good for them. They can't get it off their feathers and it will lead to hypothermia and death. Plus, most of these items will melt in the heat making goo run all over the place. Please don't use these items.
This didn't work for me.
Actually very bad idea. The vaseline can get on hummers' wings. they will get stuck together and the hummingbirds are then unable to fly and feed and they die of starvation. Water moat is the best solution for this.
Vaseline will melt in the hot sun.....it is bad for the hummingbirds. I found at Wild Birds Unlimited an ant proof and bee proof hummingbird feeder. I had to purchase a packet of the little plastic tips to put over the holes on the feeder but IT WORKS!!!! The feeders have a small water mote in the center that the ants will not cross and believe me we have watched them try.
I thought of trying this a few years back, and yuck, I will never do it again. The vaseline becomes gummy, and in hot weather it makes a real mess.
Looks like an easy solution. I'll try it tomorrow. Thanks.
So glad to see people discouraging this. Petroleum jelly is not good for anything or anyone. It i the muck that cakes up around the shaft when they are pumping oil. Workers found they were getting soft hands and someone decided to make a product out of it. It is refined and bleached but to me it just reeks of petroleum when a jar is opened. There are many more chemical free products available without having to use it.
I get rid of ants with borax. I would think sprinkling a small amount at the base of the shepherd's crook would stop it if you really wanted an effect deterrent. I sprinkle some on my threshold and window sills twice a year and haven't had any ants since. I use it in the garden too. It cannot go into the plot or containers, will burn the plants. However, a small trail along the garden border works effectively. I use one of those mustard or ketchup bottles like you see in diners. Dispenses a nice even line without overdoing it.
Glad everyone put a stop to the Vaseline thing, or any type of grease, glue or other stuff the birds can get into. That was a very bad idea.
I'm currently using another Perky Pet product. It's an upside down red in color cup that has some insecticide ant repellent at the top of the inside of the upside down cup. I was leary of any sort of chemical, but the birds and rain can't get to it at all. It's a solid, and won't melt or drip. It just sits there at the top of the cup.
I researched the chemical, and it's non-toxic to birds.
It still creeps me out a bit, but as far as I can it's perfectly safe, and it works. No ants at all. None. Not one.
No mote that dries up, no oil, no pile of dead ants in a mote, no problems and no ants.
I love hummingbirds and would never do anything to harm them. As far as I can tell, this product seems safe to use and it works. If anyone knows differently, please post!
Except when it gets hot and the vaseline melts.
Where did you buy the water motes?
This is not good because if the birds get the vasaline (oil) on their wi GS they are unable to fly. Do NOT use any sort of oil based product on humming bird feeder.