A hummingbird feeder can be a fantastic addition to your yard, attracting beautiful hummingbirds that bring life and color to your outdoor space. However, ants are also attracted to the sweet nectar and can be a nuisance. This guide will teach you how to keep ants away from your hummingbird feeder without harming the birds.
Table of Contents
The Ant Problem
Ants are attracted to the sugar in hummingbird nectar, which provides them with a readily available food source. If left unchecked, ants can quickly overrun your feeder, deterring hummingbirds from visiting. Learn what attracts ants to better understand their behavior and take preventive measures.
Top Tips to Keep Ants Away from Your Hummingbird Feeder
- Use an ant moat: An ant moat is a small cup or barrier filled with water that hangs above the feeder. Ants can’t swim, so they’re unable to reach the nectar.
- Apply petroleum jelly: Smearing petroleum jelly on the hanging wire or pole prevents ants from climbing down to the feeder.
- Hang the feeder with fishing line: Ants struggle to climb thin, slippery surfaces like fishing line.
- Keep the feeder clean: Regularly clean your hummingbird feeder to remove any spilled nectar that attracts ants.
- Move the feeder: If ants persist, try moving the feeder to a different location in your yard.
1. Ant Moats: How They Work and DIY Options
An ant moat is a simple yet effective way to prevent ants from reaching your hummingbird feeder. The design is a small cup or barrier filled with water that hangs above the feeder. Ants are unable to swim and will avoid water, making it impossible for them to reach the nectar.
You can purchase ready-made ant moats, or create a DIY version using items like bottle caps, plastic containers, or small cups. To make your own ant moat:
- Find a suitable container (e.g., a bottle cap, small cup, or plastic container).
- Drill or puncture a hole in the center of the container.
- Thread the hanging wire or string of the hummingbird feeder through the hole.
- Fill the container with water, ensuring it’s deep enough to prevent ants from crossing.
Remember to regularly check and refill the ant moat, as water may evaporate or be spilled by wind or birds.
2. Petroleum Jelly: Application Tips
Petroleum jelly is a sticky substance that ants have difficulty crossing. To apply petroleum jelly to your feeder:
- Clean the hanging wire or pole thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
- Use a clean cloth or disposable glove to apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly along the wire or pole, creating a barrier that ants cannot cross.
- Reapply as needed, particularly after heavy rain or strong winds.
Note: Be cautious when using petroleum jelly, as it may be harmful to some birds if ingested. Apply it only to areas that hummingbirds won’t come into contact with.
3. Fishing Line: Advantages and Installation
Fishing line is a thin, slippery material that ants struggle to climb. To use fishing line as an ant deterrent:
- Replace the existing hanging wire or string of your hummingbird feeder with fishing line, ensuring it’s strong enough to support the feeder’s weight.
- Hang the feeder as usual, making sure there are no nearby branches or structures that ants could use to bypass the fishing line.
Fishing line is not only an effective ant deterrent but also less visible than traditional wire or string, creating a more aesthetically pleasing look for your hummingbird feeder.
4. Maintaining a Clean Feeder: Best Practices
Keeping your hummingbird feeder clean is essential to minimize ant attraction. Follow these best practices to maintain a clean feeder:
- Regularly inspect the feeder for leaks or spills, and repair or replace as needed.
- Clean the feeder with warm soapy water and a soft brush every week, or more frequently during hot weather.
- Rinse the feeder thoroughly to remove any soap residue, which can deter hummingbirds.
- Refill the feeder with fresh nectar and ensure the lid is securely fastened to prevent spills.
By following these tips and implementing the ant deterrent methods outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to keeping ants away from your hummingbird feeder and providing a welcoming environment for your feathered friends.
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Ant Deterrent Recipes
Recipe 1: Natural Ant Repellent Spray
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 20 drops peppermint essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray around the base of the feeder pole or on nearby plants to deter ants.
Recipe 2: Cinnamon Barrier
- Ground cinnamon
Sprinkle a generous amount of ground cinnamon around the base of the feeder pole or on the surface where the feeder hangs. Ants dislike cinnamon and will avoid crossing it.
Recipe 3: Lemon and Orange Peels
Citrus peels contain natural oils that repel ants due to their strong scent. To use this method:
- Collect the peels of oranges and/or lemons.
- Scatter the peels around the base of the feeder pole or on the surface where the feeder hangs.
- Replace the peels every few days or after heavy rain to maintain their effectiveness.
Recipe 4: Coffee Grounds
Used coffee grounds can be a useful ant deterrent due to their strong odor, which masks the scent of the hummingbird nectar.
- Save used coffee grounds from your coffee maker or collect them from a local coffee shop.
- Allow the coffee grounds to dry out, as wet grounds may mold.
- Sprinkle the dry coffee grounds around the base of the feeder pole or on the surface where the feeder hangs.
- Replace the coffee grounds regularly to maintain their effectiveness.
Recipe 5: Essential Oil Spray
A variety of essential oils can be used to create an ant-repellent spray. Choose from options like eucalyptus, lavender, or tea tree oil, which are known to deter ants.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 20 drops of your chosen essential oil(s)
- Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well to mix.
- Spray around the base of the feeder pole, on nearby plants, or on the surface where the feeder hangs. Be cautious not to spray the hummingbird feeder directly, as some essential oils may be harmful to birds.
- Reapply the spray every few days or after rain to maintain its effectiveness.
(Video) How To
Is it OK for ants to get in hummingbird feeders?
No, it’s not ideal for ants to get in hummingbird feeders. Ants can contaminate the nectar, making it less appealing to hummingbirds. They may also deter hummingbirds from visiting the feeder, as the birds will try to avoid areas with high ant activity.
What insecticide is safe for hummingbirds?
Using insecticides near hummingbird feeders is not recommended, as they can harm or even kill the birds. Instead, opt for natural, non-toxic methods to deter ants, such as ant moats, essential oil sprays, or barriers made from natural substances like cinnamon or diatomaceous earth.
What things do sugar ants hate?
Sugar ants, like most ant species, dislike strong scents and substances that interfere with their ability to navigate. Some of the things they hate include:
– Citrus peels (lemon, orange)
– Peppermint oil
– Coffee grounds
– Essential oils (eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree)
What do you put in a hummingbird ant trap?
A hummingbird ant trap, also known as an ant moat, is a small cup or barrier filled with water that hangs above the feeder. Ants are unable to swim, so the water serves as an effective barrier to prevent them from reaching the nectar. Make sure to check and refill the ant moat regularly, as the water may evaporate or be spilled by wind or birds.
What is the best easiest-to-clean hummingbird feeder?
The easiest-to-clean hummingbird feeders typically feature a wide-mouth design and minimal intricate parts, allowing for thorough and hassle-free cleaning. One such feeder is the Aspects HummZinger HighView, which has a wide opening, built-in ant moat, and raised perches for hummingbirds. This feeder allows for quick and easy cleaning and refilling. However, it’s essential to read reviews and consider your specific needs before choosing the best feeder for your situation.
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