Keep Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeders

hummingbird haven - top 5 hummingbird feeders


Hummingbirds are so fun to watch as they zip around your garden and hovering around your flowers sipping nectar.  Even your hummingbird feeders are surrounded by these beauties as they drink that sweet homemade nectar that you made with sugar and water.   What an added delight!  At least that is until those annoying ants show up.

One by one, two by two, the ants march, following each other up the post then down onto your feeder to get some of that good sweet sugar water for themselves.  Most of them drowning in  what used to be clear delicious nectar for the hummers.  AND you can’t figure out why the hummers are not coming to the feeder anymore.  It is because of the ants of course!   So what do you do?  Read on……


How To Keep Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeders

What NOT To Do

There are many ways that people try to keep the ants out of their hummingbird feeders.  People put cooking oil/spray or Vaseline on the ants - how to keep ants off of hummingbird feedershanger rod of the feeder.  This supposedly keeps the ants at bay because they have a hard time navigating the slick surface.  While this does last for a short while it is not good for hummingbirds.  If a hummingbird brushes up against this substance it collects in its feathers which can build up and affect their flying ability.  Not good!  In addition to that think about the mess this stuff makes once the sun heats it up.  Yuck!

Another fix is to put Vicks Vapor Rub on the hanger rod or post.  The smell of vapor rub is supposed to also keep ants away because people claim that the ants do not like the smell.  However, this is the same consistency as Vaseline and is not good for hummers.

Some people also spray insecticides around the area to kill off the ants.  This can be very harmful for hummingbirds if they get it on their feathers and later preen them.


Some Better Options

  1. Check your hummingbird feeder to make sure that it is not leaking nectar.  Ants are like magnets to this sweet stuff.  If your feeder is leaking check to make sure that you have everything tightened on and if you do and it is still leaking, it may be time to get a new feeder.
  2. Keep your hummingbird feeder clean.  Every time before you fill up your feeder, clean it inside and out getting any residue off, especially on the outside so it doesn’t attract the ants.
  3. Put your feeder in a less sunny place.   The reason being is because the heat of the sun can heat up the bottle of the feeder making the nectar expand which may cause it to leak.  The other reason is that the nectar goes bad faster in the direct sunlight all day.
  4. Some folks claim that you should relocate the hummingbird feeder every so often.  The idea is that this will confuse the ants and make it harder for them to find again.   Probably true but do you want to have to worry about moving the feeder all of the time?
  5. You can also hang your hummingbird feeder using fishing line.  Ants have a hard time traveling on the very thin line.
  6.   This is one of my Top Choices!  Get an ant moat or also called ant guard.  You can get them as cheap as three or four dollars and they are so worth it.  It is a little cup like feature that you place on top of your hummingbird feeder that you fill with water.  The ants end of drowning in the water instead of the nectar.  All you have to do is keep an eye on the moat.  Every few days or every time you fill your feeder with more nectar, add water to the moat.  It works like a charm!  We have been using these for a long time and they are so effective.  We never have to worry about a trail of ants going to the feeder.
  7. Another one of my top choices is to purchase a hummingbird feeder that already has an ant moat on it.  We have a few of these too and they work great!
  8. This one goes with #5.  You could always make your own ant moat.  Here is a nice looking DIY Ant Moat  that I found but you may have your own ideas of how you want to do it.





Final Thoughts

Everyone likes to put up hummingbird feeders during the summer months to attract hummers to their garden.  Who wouldn’t want to enjoy those beauties as they zip around, flying from one pretty flower to the next, as they feed on the nectar as well as at your hummingbird feeders.  The problem is hummingbird feeders attract ants to the sweet sugar water inside of them.

There are ways to prevent this from happening, some good ones, some not so good ones.   Do not put cooking oil, cooking spray, or Vaseline on or along the feeder.  Yes, it may keep the ants at bay for a day or two but eventually the hot sun makes a mess of it and who wants that to deal with.  Additionally and most importantly, it is not good for hummingbirds if they get this stuff on their feathers.  It causes a build-up on their feathers which could affect their flying ability and who wants to be responsible for that?

Also, no pesticides or vapor rub.  This stuff is not good for the hummers either.

Some better options is to first make sure that your hummingbird feeder does not have a leak.  If it does and cannot be fixed, then purchase a new one.  They do not have to be the expensive kind.

Another option is to keep your hummingbird feeder out of direct sunlight.  The heat of the sun can make the nectar expand in the bottle causing it to leak.  Plus, the nectar lasts longer too.

Really the best option is to either purchase a hummingbird feeder with an ant moat already built into it or buy just an ant moat or ant guard as some are called, to place above your feeder.  Of course you could always make your own too if you are so inclined.   Ant moats as far as I am concerned, work the best!


Do you have a preference for keeping ants out of your hummingbird feeder?  Let me know what works best for you in the comment section below.  Thank you for reading!


Happy Birding!






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