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I have a hummingbird feeder hanging from the side of my carport, and I noticed today that ants had discovered it. Since it's right next to my house, I don't really want the ants learning that there's food around, and they keep drowning in the nectar which seems to be driving the hummingbirds away as I've seen less of them around since the ants discovered it.

I placed some tape around the hook that the feeder is hanging from, thinking that maybe they would stick to it then stop coming, but it's not sticky enough for them I guess because they walked right over it.

I do have another hook a couple feet away that's holding a bird feeder, so would it work if I just switched them every few weeks you think? How can I keep the ants away?

Hummingbird feeder

  • Is this on-topic here? I wasn't sure because it's not about plants, but I think bird feeders are part of landscaping. – The Flash Aug 17 '14 at 21:25
  • It's tangentially related to landscaping. Personally I think it is a reasonable thing to ask Not sure there's necessarily a better place to post this on stackexchange... Might be but I don't know offhand. – itsmatt Aug 17 '14 at 21:40
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Use an ant moat.

You could build one yourself but the ones you can purchase are inexpensive and essentially consist of a cup that holds water and creates a barrier between the shepherd's hook and the hummingbird feeder. The ants won't be able to cross the barrier - at least they don't on ours.

That style - same style I have - can leak a bit and if the ants know it is there, then they're apt to try to reach it. Some other feeder types are a bit less prone to leak, but I like the look of the type we have.


Another thought - you could sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around the base of the hummingbird feeder hook and that might also discourage ants as they don't fare too well when walking through it. It's not an immediate fix and D.E. is something that you'll need to reapply after a hard rain as it washes away rather easily, but it might work.

I use D.E. sparingly around plants and directly on ant infestations that show up around the house if they're bad. It's quite effective.

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  • I use an ant moat with water and it works great. After a while, the ants just give up anyways so it goes dry for days and is still effective. I have tried oil and jelly; water worked the best for me. I use a large umbrella style on so it holds a lot of water. – Evil Elf Aug 18 '14 at 13:33
  • I used an ant moat with good results too, but they kind of keep filling up with dead bugs (gross!) at least for me. I'll have to try the DE solution. – J. Musser Aug 18 '14 at 17:16
  • On feeders with a single rod I've made good ant moats from an old cat food or tuna-fish can and some hot glue, both faster and cheaper than I could go to the store and buy one. A bit harder with this hanger. I guess you could punch a bigger hole and make it fit the pole. A drop of (or fragment of for solid) soap in the water helps it work better. – Ecnerwal Aug 20 '14 at 1:24
  • Not sure why this was down-voted. Would be nice if the person doing that would write a comment. – itsmatt Aug 23 '14 at 1:38
  • The ant moat seems to be the answer for me, I stopped seeing ants on the hummingbird feeder after I put one on it. My idea of switching the feeder to the other hook only worked for a day before the ants found it again. – The Flash Sep 4 '14 at 22:18
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There should be no oily substances near hummer feeders. In their battles they can, and do, get oils on their flight feathers, which they can't remove. Ant moats should be used with water only to deter ants.

Here is a source for this information.

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  • Hi and welcome to the site! Your answer is a good one. I was doing some research and found a source that provided the same information, so I added a link for you. We hope to see you here often! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Jul 2 '15 at 0:04
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Here's the trick that worked for me. Use some petroleum jelly, a cheap, easily acquired substance which is the base for many lotions and ointments, and is of course non-toxic. Ants can't walk through it, so a ring of it applied to the hummingbird feeder pole, just wider than the length of the longest ants you expect, will keep them off. Reapply whenever necessary. Also see my answer to this question on biology.se.

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  • I have had no luck whatever with this method, and I've greased up 8" or more of pole with 1/2" or less ants. – Ecnerwal Aug 20 '14 at 1:20
  • @Ecnerwal That's weird, cause it worked like a charm for me, till it got dirty. – J. Musser Aug 20 '14 at 1:23

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