December 23


5 proven tricks recommended by experts to prevent ants from accessing hummingbird feeders

How to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders – 5 expert-approved tricks

Gardens are often a sanctuary for wildlife, attracting not only colorful flowers and butterflies but also the delightful presence of hummingbirds. However, one common issue that gardeners face is keeping ants out of hummingbird feeders. As tiny creatures, ants can easily find their way into available food sources, causing frustration for both the birds and their owners. Thankfully, there is expert advice available on how to minimize ant activity and ensure hummingbirds can enjoy their meals in peace.

Rachel Hutchinson, an ornithologist and avid birding enthusiast, suggests various ways to keep ants away from hummingbird feeders. One of her best tips is to use a slippery surface, such as a moat or a water feature, to create a barrier that ants cannot cross. By placing the feeder onto a platform with water, ants will struggle to reach the food, ensuring it remains accessible only to the hummingbirds.

Cleaning the feeders regularly is another important step in ant control. Hutchinson emphasizes the need to clean the feeders with hot, soapy water at least once a week. This helps remove any sticky residue that may lure ants and also ensures that the feeding conditions are sanitary for the hummingbirds. By keeping the feeder clean, ants are less likely to be attracted to it.

Consider the location of your hummingbird feeder when trying to keep ants at bay. Hutchinson suggests placing the feeder somewhere in your backyard that is away from trees, bushes, or other potential pathways that ants may use to access the food. This will make it more difficult for ants to find the feeder and discourage their presence.

Another popular trend in ant control for hummingbird feeders is the use of moats. These small containers filled with water are placed above the feeder, creating a physical barrier that ants cannot pass. This clever solution not only keeps ants away but also provides a decorative feature in the garden.

For those who are looking for more ideas on attracting wildlife to their gardens, bird and butterfly enthusiasts will find this advice helpful. By implementing these expert-approved tricks, gardeners can ensure that their hummingbird feeders remain ant-free, providing an enjoyable feeding experience for these delicate creatures and the opportunity to observe their unique beauty up close.

How to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders

Ants can be a common problem when it comes to hummingbird feeders, but with a few simple tricks, you can keep them away and ensure that your feathered friends have a peaceful dining experience.

1. Use moats

One of the most effective and popular ways to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders is by using moats. These small, shallow bowls filled with water create a barrier that ants cannot cross. Simply hang the feeder from a hook attached above the moat, ensuring that there is no direct contact between the feeder and the ants.

2. Create a slippery surface

Ants rely on a trail of pheromones to find their way to food sources. By coating the hanger or hook of your hummingbird feeder with a slippery substance like petroleum jelly or cooking spray, you can prevent ants from climbing onto the feeder.

3. Keep the feeding area clean

3. Keep the feeding area clean

Regular cleaning of the hummingbird feeder is important not only for the health of the birds but also to prevent ant problems. Make sure to clean your feeder thoroughly every few days, especially in hot and humid conditions. Scrub it with a mixture of hot water and vinegar, rinse it well, and refill with fresh nectar.

4. Move your feeder to another location

If ants continue to find their way to your hummingbird feeder, consider moving it to a different spot in your backyard. Placing the feeder in an area with less vegetation or near a garden specifically designed to attract butterflies can help minimize ant issues.

5. Attract wildlife to control ants

If you’re a wildlife lover and a hummingbird feeder owner, another way to naturally control ants is by attracting wild birds that feed on ants. Birds like woodpeckers and nuthatches are known to eat ants, so creating a wildlife-friendly environment in your backyard can be beneficial.

In summary, keeping ants out of hummingbird feeders is essential for the well-being of the birds. Using moats, creating a slippery surface, regular cleaning, choosing the right location, and attracting wildlife are all effective ways to control ant problems and ensure maximum enjoyment for both birds and birding enthusiasts.

1 Use an ant moat

1 Use an ant moat

If you have bird feeders in your backyard, you may have noticed ants finding their way onto them and causing a nuisance. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders. One of the best ideas is to use an ant moat.

An ant moat is an easy and convenient device that can be attached to your bird feeders. It acts as a barrier, preventing ants from climbing onto the feeder and accessing the nectar meant for the hummingbirds. The moat usually consists of a small cup-like structure that can be filled with water. The water creates a slippery surface, making it difficult for the ants to reach the feeder.

To use an ant moat, simply hang it above your hummingbird feeder. The moat should be filled with water, ideally clean and free from debris or contaminants, which could harm the birds. As the ants try to reach the feeder, they will encounter the water-filled moat and be unable to cross it. This simple yet effective method will help keep the ants away from the hummingbird feeder.

There are various ant moats available in the market, each offering its own unique features. Some moats may have hooks or clips to easily attach them to the feeder, while others might have integrated hangers. It’s important to choose a moat that is compatible and can be securely attached to your bird feeder.

Zach Hutchinson, an ornithologist and bird feeder owner, recommends regular cleaning and maintenance of the ant moat and hummingbird feeder. This ensures that the water in the moat is always clean and replenished, minimizing the risk of bacterial growth.

Ant moats are not only effective at keeping the ants away from the hummingbird feeder, but they also offer some wildlife benefits. The water-filled moats may attract other insects like butterflies, providing them with a water source. Additionally, the moats can also prevent other pests, such as bees or wasps, from accessing the bird feeder.

Before submitting to the trends of ant control sprays or chemicals, it’s wise to consider the simple and eco-friendly solution of using an ant moat. By implementing this advice, you will be able to keep the hummingbirds well-fed and happy, while ensuring the ants stay out of their way.

2 Keep it clean

Keeping your hummingbird feeders clean is essential to prevent ants from invading them. Just like other wild bird feeders, a clean hummingbird feeder is an effective way to control wildlife and attract hummingbirds to your backyard.

One of the best ways to keep your feeders clean is by using moats. These small water-filled devices create a barrier that ants cannot cross, preventing them from reaching the nectar. Many feeders come with moats already built-in, but if yours doesn’t have one, they are available for purchase separately.

Another important consideration for keeping your feeders clean is to clean them regularly. This is necessary not only to remove any sticky residue that may attract ants, but also to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. The ornithologist Zach Hutchinson advises cleaning hummingbird feeders every three to five days, or more often in hot and humid conditions.

To clean your feeder, remove any leftover nectar and rinse it with warm water. If there are any stubborn residues, you can use a mixture of mild dish soap and water to scrub the feeder. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly, making sure there is no soap residue left behind.

If you notice ants climbing onto the feeder despite your best efforts, consider placing it somewhere slippery. Ants have a hard time climbing smooth or slippery surfaces, so this can deter them from reaching the nectar.

In addition to keeping your feeders clean, you can also minimize ant problems by attracting other insects to your garden. Birds like hummingbirds often eat insects, and by providing a habitat that is attractive to wildlife, you can encourage them to dine on ants as well. Planting flowers that are attractive to butterflies and having a water feature can help create a wildlife-friendly environment.

  1. Keep your hummingbird feeders clean by using moats or purchasing feeders with built-in moats.
  2. Clean your feeders every three to five days, or more often in hot and humid conditions.
  3. Remove residual nectar and rinse with warm water, using mild dish soap if necessary.
  4. Place your feeder in a slippery location to make it difficult for ants to climb.
  5. Create a wildlife-friendly environment by attracting other insects to your garden.

3 Consider placement

3 Consider placement

One of the most important factors to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders is the placement of the feeders. By considering the location of the feeders in your outdoor space, you can minimize the chances of ants being attracted to them.

When choosing a spot for your hummingbird feeders, it’s best to keep them away from wild or overgrown areas of your garden. Ants are more likely to be present in these areas, and placing the feeders there may increase the chances of ant infestation.

Another important thing to consider is the proximity to water sources. Hummingbirds need water to drink and bathe, so they are naturally attracted to areas with water. However, placing the feeders too close to a water source may also attract ants. Therefore, it’s best to find a balance and keep the feeders a reasonable distance away from water sources.

In addition, it’s important to keep the feeders away from flowers and plants that attract ants. Some plants produce nectar, which ants are very fond of. By placing the feeders far from these plants, you can reduce the chances of ants finding their way onto the feeders.

Zach Hutchinson, an ornithologist and owner of a birding supply store, suggests using ant moats as another effective way to keep ants out of the feeders. These are small devices that feature a slippery surface, making it difficult for ants to crawl onto the feeders. They are easy to find and can be attached to the feeders without much fuss.

Knowing the best placement for your hummingbird feeders can help you control ant infestation and provide a clean and safe feeding environment for the birds. By following these placement ideas, you can attract hummingbirds to your backyard while keeping ants at bay.

4 Sprinkle cinnamon

Cinnamon is a natural deterrent for ants due to its strong scent. Sprinkling cinnamon around your backyard and near your hummingbird feeders can help keep ants away. This is an easy and affordable method to keep ants from feasting on your nectar-filled feeders.

To use cinnamon as an ant repellent, simply sprinkle it around the base of your feeders or create a border with it. You can also sprinkle cinnamon in areas where you have noticed ant trails or nests. Reapply the cinnamon regularly, especially after rain or when you clean your feeders.

Cinnamon is safe for hummingbirds and other wildlife, so you don’t have to worry about any harmful effects. This spice is also commonly used in birdseed mixes to deter ants and other insects.

If you want to take things a step further, you can also mix cinnamon with water to create a cinnamon spray. Apply this spray around the feeding area or directly onto ant trails for added ant control. Just be sure to avoid spraying the solution on the hummingbird feeders themselves.

While cinnamon can help minimize ants, it may not completely eliminate them. Some ants may still find their way to your feeders, especially if they discover an alternative food source nearby. However, sprinkling cinnamon is still a great method to deter ants and reduce their presence around your hummingbird feeders.

Keep in mind that cinnamon is not a one-size-fits-all solution to ant problems. If you have a severe ant infestation or if other methods have failed, you may need to try other ant control strategies or seek professional advice.

5 Avoid pesticides

5 Avoid pesticides

When it comes to keeping ants out of hummingbird feeders, using pesticides is not the best solution. Pesticides can not only harm the ants but also the hummingbirds and other wildlife that visit your garden. It’s important to prioritize the safety and well-being of all creatures.

Instead of using pesticides, there are alternative methods you can employ to deter ants from invading your hummingbird feeders:

  1. Keep it clean: Regularly clean your hummingbird feeders to ensure there are no spills or leftover sugary residue that may attract ants.
  2. Consider moats: Using moats is another effective strategy to keep ants away. Moats are small containers filled with water that you can hang above or below your feeders. The water acts as a barrier, preventing ants from reaching the hummingbird nectar.
  3. Minimize spills: Be mindful of spillage and clean up any spills immediately. Ants can be attracted to even the smallest amount of sugary liquid left around the feeder.
  4. Choose a slippery location: Place your hummingbird feeder somewhere that makes it difficult for ants to reach. Hanging it from a thin wire or chain can make it much harder for ants to climb onto the feeder.
  5. Submit to nature: Let nature take its course and allow birds, insects, and other animals to do their part in controlling ant populations. Nature provides natural predators for ants, such as birds, spiders, and other insects.

By following these simple and natural methods, you can keep ants away from your hummingbird feeders without resorting to harmful pesticides. Remember, the key is to create a safe and inviting environment for hummingbirds while minimizing conditions that attract ants.



  • Q: How often should I clean my hummingbird feeder?
  • A: It is recommended to clean your hummingbird feeder at least once a week to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. However, in hot and humid conditions, you may need to clean it more frequently.

  • Q: What is the best way to clean a hummingbird feeder?
  • A: To clean your hummingbird feeder, you can use a mixture of hot water and mild soap. Make sure to thoroughly rinse it afterwards to remove any soap residue. Use a bottle brush or a toothbrush to reach into small crevices.

  • Q: How can I keep ants away from my hummingbird feeder?
  • A: Ants are often attracted to the sugary nectar in hummingbird feeders. You can use ant moats, which are small devices filled with water, that create a barrier to keep ants from reaching the feeder. Another option is to apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or cooking oil onto the suspension wire or hook of the feeder to make it slippery and discourage ants from crawling onto it.

  • Q: What is the best way to attract hummingbirds to my backyard?
  • A: To attract hummingbirds, you can provide them with a variety of flowering plants with bright-colored flowers. Planting native flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year will ensure a constant source of nectar. Also, consider placing multiple feeders at different locations in your backyard to accommodate more hummingbirds.

  • Q: Should I use red dye in the hummingbird nectar?
  • A: No, it is not recommended to use red dye in the hummingbird nectar. Red color on the feeder itself is enough to attract hummingbirds. Red dye can be harmful to hummingbirds and it is best to stick to a simple solution of four parts water to one part white granulated sugar.

Does Vaseline or vegetable oil keep ants out of hummingbird feeders?

One common problem that many hummingbird feeder owners face is the intrusion of ants. These tiny creatures are attracted to the sweet nectar in the feeders and can quickly become a nuisance. Fortunately, there are several ways to control ants and keep them out of your hummingbird feeders.

Some people believe that applying Vaseline or vegetable oil to the feeding ports of the hummingbird feeders can create a slippery surface that ants cannot crawl across. While this method may work for a short period of time, it is not always effective in the long run.

According to Zach Hutchinson, an ornithologist and backyard birding expert, Vaseline and vegetable oil are not the best solutions for keeping ants out of hummingbird feeders. He explains that ants are clever creatures and can overcome these slippery barriers by finding alternative access points or by creating bridges using their bodies.

If you are considering using Vaseline or vegetable oil to keep ants out of your hummingbird feeders, it is important to know that it may not provide a long-term solution. Instead, you may need to try other methods to effectively control ants.

One of the best ways to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders is by using ant moats. Ant moats are small cups or containers that can be filled with water and hung above the feeder. The moat creates a barrier that ants cannot cross, as they cannot swim. This method not only keeps ants away from the feeder but also provides an additional water source for the hummingbirds.

Another option is to clean your hummingbird feeders regularly. Any leftover nectar or residue can attract ants. By ensuring that your feeders are clean, you can minimize the chances of ants being attracted to them. It is recommended to clean the feeders at least once a week or more frequently if necessary.

In addition to using ant moats and regularly cleaning your feeders, there are other strategies you can consider to deter ants. For example, you can place the feeders in a location with minimal ant activity, such as away from trees or gardens. You can also try using feeders with built-in ant guards or choose feeders that have smaller entrances that ants cannot easily access.

While there is no foolproof method to completely prevent ants from accessing hummingbird feeders, these strategies can help minimize their presence. By taking proactive steps, you can create a better feeding environment for the hummingbirds while ensuring the privacy of your own backyard.

Please note: If you are submitting your outdoor space or garden to attract wild birds or other wildlife, it is always best to research and consult with experts for advice that fits your unique conditions and local trends.


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