Hummingbirds are such pretty and interesting birds. You might really like seeing hummingbirds in your yard because of just how cool they are.
Many people choose to install hummingbird feeders in their yards to try to attract more hummingbirds. As long as you keep the feeders stocked with nectar, the hummingbirds will likely keep coming back to get food regularly.
If you went to restock one of your feeders and discovered that ants were getting inside, then you might be worried. You don’t want ants getting to the nectar that’s meant for the hummingbirds.
You also don’t want the hummingbird feeders to get contaminated in any way. What can you do to keep this from being an issue?
Continue reading to learn how to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders. This should help you to get the best results so that you can continue to enjoy seeing hummingbirds on your property.
1 – Suspend the Hummingbird Feeders Using Fishing Line
You might have the idea of hanging the hummingbird feeders so that the ants won’t be able to get to them. This is a great idea, but ants are good at climbing things and could potentially get to the hummingbird feeders anyway.
This is why you need to suspend the feeders using something that is too thin for even ants to traverse. Fishing line is going to work incredibly well to get this job done.
Ants simply won’t be able to crawl to the hummingbird feeders if you suspend them in the air using a fishing line. Aside from being too thin, the fishing line will also be very slippery.
Buying fishing line to get this done will be simple. You can get it online or buy it at a hardware store.
To get this to work properly, it’s going to be necessary to use a very strong fishing line. If you use a weak fishing line, then the feeder might not have the support that it needs.
Ideally, you should buy fishing line that can support up to two pounds of weight. Once you’re sure that you have a fishing line that can support the feeder and the weight of a resting hummingbird, you’ll be able to move forward.
2 – Create an Ant Moat
Creating an ant moat is another very common, practical way to protect feeders from ants. As you might expect, the idea is to create a moat that will keep ants from being able to get to the feeder.
Typically, ant moats will be cups of water that are placed just above the nectar. Some designs might have the water placed below the nectar.
You’ll also find some more elaborate ant moat designs out there if you do enough digging. These designs might be needlessly complex, though, and it’s probably easier to stick to something simple.
Some choose to make their own DIY ant moats for their feeders. You can do this pretty easily with a plastic soda pop bottle if you want to take the time to make your own.
Essentially, you just cut the top off of the bottle so that you’re left with a bowl-shaped section of the bottle that still has the cap. Then you’re going to use a coat hanger to push a hole through the bottle cap.
You’ll need to drill a tiny hole in the bottle cap to do this. Fill the bottle cap with hot glue to prevent any leaks in the moat. Let the glue dry and then fill your new moat with water before hanging it up.
This is a very simplified explanation of how to build a DIY moat for your hummingbird feeder. If you’d like a more detailed video instruction, then you can check out this video.
Of course, you don’t have to build your own ant moat for the feeder. It’s easy to just go out to the store and buy one that you can install as well.
It’s even possible to buy hummingbird feeders that have built-in ant moats. This might make your life a bit easier since you won’t need to figure out how to build one or install one.
3 – Ant Guards Might Sometimes Be Necessary
There have been situations where ants have been able to figure out how to get past ant moats. Ants are craftier than some people give them credit for.
For example, you could see ants creating a bridge with their bodies for the other ants to crawl across and reach the nectar in the hummingbird feeder. As wild as this is to think about, it’s still possible to stop such inventive ants.
You can buy an ant guard to put in the hummingbird feeder that will act as a final layer of protection. It contains a light insecticide that won’t be harmful to hummingbirds or people.
This actually won’t even kill the ants, but it’ll deter them from wanting to get too close. Using an ant guard in conjunction with an ant moat should be enough to keep the feeders safe from ants.
Normally, you might want to avoid using chemicals of any kind. This is fine since it won’t harm the hummingbirds and it should also be safe for your garden area.
4 – Hang the Feeders Directly Above a Body of Water
Ants can’t really swim, and this means that water is going to present them with significant problems. This is why the idea of using an ant moat to protect the ants is such a good one.
If you want to make it even less likely that ants will be able to get to your bird feeders, then you could hang them directly above a body of water. You can use the same technique that was showcased with the fishing line suspension idea.
The only difference is that you’re finding a spot that is above water. The ants won’t be able to realistically get to the feeder if it’s suspended above the water.
If they try to climb the fishing line, they won’t be able to get across. You don’t need to have a natural body of water to be able to do this either.
It might be best to simply hang the feeder above a birdbath. This can be great because it’ll also help to attract hummingbirds to the spot because they’ll have access to water.
Hummingbirds love to play in the water. They also need to be able to get something to drink from time to time.
5 – Consider Moving the Feeder From Time to Time
Have you thought about moving the location of the hummingbird feeder from time to time? This could keep the ants guessing and they might not be able to find the feeder.
Ants leave trails that will help other ants figure out where to go to get more food. If you move the feeder, then this trail won’t be able to lead them to the hummingbird feeder any longer.
It’s just a simple way to throw the ants off and keep them from being a problem. It’s also recommended to keep your hummingbird feeders spread out enough so that they aren’t bunched together.
There should be about seven feet of space between the hummingbird feeders. If they’re clustered too close to each other, then you could have more problems with ants than you bargained for.
Of course, not everyone is going to find moving the feeders to be an ideal option. Also, you don’t necessarily want to move the feeders when the hummingbirds have become used to the current locations.
It might be more practical to utilize the fishing line idea from earlier. You can still consider this idea if you think that it’d make sense in your situation.
6 – Watch Out for Leaks in the Feeder
It makes sense that ants will come running if they’re able to tell that food is nearby. If you have a feeder that springs a leak, then you’re going to want to take care of things fast.
Sometimes a hummingbird feeder will get damaged and it’ll wind up springing a leak. This could cause some of the nectar to leak out, and the ants will be able to smell this.
Choosing to leave things alone will lead to curious ants coming by in search of food. They’ll notice the feeder and they’ll understand that there is something sweet leaking from inside.
Even a slow drip is going to be enough to attract ants. As soon as you notice that the feeder is leaking, it’s going to be prudent to get things fixed up.
You should try to keep an eye on your feeders to ensure that they’re in good condition. This means checking on the feeders multiple times a week to see how things are going.
Remember that various things can cause these feeders to become damaged. When it’s very hot outside during the summer, it’s possible that heat could cause the feeder to expand and crack a bit.
Wind could also damage a hummingbird feeder by knocking it into another object. So long as you’re keeping an eye on the feeders, you should be able to repair things before you have a big problem with ants.
7 – Remember to Clean the Hummingbird Feeders
You really should try to keep the hummingbird feeders clean as well. Doing so is going to help you to keep ants at bay.
It’s also important to do this for the sake of the hummingbirds. You need the hummingbird feeders to remain clean so that the hummingbirds will be able to keep using the feeders.
Eventually, the feeders will become contaminated if you don’t clean them properly. This could make the nectar go bad before it’s supposed to as well.
If you want to keep the feeders in top condition for the hummingbirds, then you should wipe them down each day. Cleaning the inside and the outside of the feeder will help to keep everything going smoothly.
Doing this will definitely make things better and safer for the hummingbirds. It’s also going to protect the feeder from other bugs that might try to bother them.
Bees, wasps, moths, and flies might come to check out your feeders if you let them get dirty. Cleaning them up keeps them from being problematic.
When you go to clean the feeder, it’s recommended to avoid using chemical cleaners. You need to use things that will be safe for the hummingbirds.
You can use something simple such as non-toxic dish soap and warm water to get the job done. So long as you’re thorough, this is going to be very helpful in your efforts to control ants.
8 – Try Planting Certain Things Near the Feeders
One smart idea for getting ants to steer clear of your feeders involves using plants to your advantage. There are certain types of plants that ants prefer to avoid.
For example, the scent of mint is very off-putting to ants. If you were to plant mint plants near the feeders, then it’s likely that the ants wouldn’t go near them.
Bay leaves also seem to work quite nicely to scare away annoying ants. You could make a little herb garden near the hummingbird feeders that will work to provide protection from ants.
Thankfully, this isn’t even going to take too much work since it’s easy to grow mint plants. So long as the mint plants are grown in rich soil, it’s going to be possible for them to thrive without much assistance.
If you’re looking for natural and simple ways to deter ants, then using plants will likely be among the most appealing options. This is a cost-effective and satisfying way to protect your feeders.
9 – You Could Try to Exterminate the Ants
Of course, it might not be a bad idea to try to get rid of the ants that are in your yard. Ants can be annoying in more ways than one, and if you have too many ants in the yard, it makes sense to want to solve this problem.
If ants are getting in your feeders, then there’s a good chance that there are many anthills nearby. You could try to kill the ants using natural methods.
Many have been able to get rid of ants by pouring boiling water down anthills. You’ll need to be careful when pouring the boiling water so that you don’t burn yourself, but this can be a good option when you’ve been able to locate the anthill.
Another handy trick is to create a vinegar spray to kill the ants. Simply mix white vinegar and water in equal parts to create this spray.
You’ll be able to spray areas where you see ants congregating. It might even be good to pour white vinegar down anthills if you find some.
There are always professional options to look into as well. You could call exterminators to come to help you out if you’re having significant issues with ants.
They can exterminate the ants and will be able to do a good job of locating all of the anthills on your property. The only issue with this is that some people might not like the chemical ant-killing sprays that these professionals use.
It’s also a bit expensive to call exterminators. This doesn’t mean that it’s something that an average person can’t afford, but it just might not be the best option depending on what your budget looks like.
Protecting the feeders from ants will be a lot simpler if you use the advice above. There are plenty of things that you can do that will get great results.
Even practical feeder maintenance can help you to keep ants from bothering things. You should be checking your feeders each day so that you can keep them clean.
If the feeders get dirty, then it’s more likely that ants will be drawn to them. Take the time to wipe the feeders down inside and out daily.
It’s also important to check for any cracks or leaks in the feeders. If the feeders start to leak nectar, then the ants will notice fast and they’ll wind up coming to the area in search of food.
You could try to hang the feeders using a fishing line because ants won’t be able to crawl on the fishing line. It’s too thin and slippery for the ants.
Hanging the feeder above a body of water will make it even less likely that ants will get inside. Consider hanging the feeder above a birdbath.
Ant moats help to keep ants from being able to actually get to the nectar if they happen to get inside the feeder. You could also use an ant guard that uses a low-intensity insecticide to deter ants.
Finally, you should try your best to eliminate ants in your yard. Use natural methods to kill ants so that there won’t be so many of them searching for food on your property.
If you have the cash, then you might even want to call exterminators to get the job done. Just consider your options and you’ll figure out the best route to take.
This should allow you to simply enjoy seeing the hummingbirds in your yard. They’ll be able to use the hummingbird feeders in peace and you’ll be happy that you were able to protect things.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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