How to Keep Ants Out of Hummingbird Feeders [10 Easy Ways]

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Do you love watching hummingbirds dart around your garden? Well – providing them with food in a hummingbird feeder is a great way to keep them returning for more.

The only problem – is that ants also love hummingbird feeders. And ants always travel in pairs. (And armies!)

So – how can you banish ants while still beckoning and welcoming the beautiful majestic hummingbirds?

We’re about to share our best tips for keeping ants out of hummingbird feeders.

Stay tuned!

How to Keep Ants Out of Hummingbird Feeders

Here are a few easy ways to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders.

  1.  Find and stop any leakage
  2.  Use fishing line to hang the feeder 
  3.  Put it above water or in the shade
  4.  Use adhesive tape
  5.  Make it slippery 
  6.  Move it often
  7.  Clean the feeder regularly 
  8.  Use bay leaves or DE
  9.  Try household remedies like clove bud or peppermint oil
  10.  The last resort – ant moats
red hummingbird feeder suspended from tree
Ants love hummingbird feeders because hummingbird nectar contains loads of sugar. The easiest way to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders is to hang your feeder sufficiently high up in a tree. Use a foot or so of fishing line slack to suspend the feeder. Hanging the feeder high in a tree by a string won’t eliminate ants outright – but it should significantly reduce the number of ants attacking the feeder.

Find and Stop Any Leakages

If you have a problem with ants getting into your hummingbird feeder? There are a few things you can do to stop them. First, check for any leaks in the feeder or nectar reservoir. Even a tiny drip can attract ants. It’s vital to ensure the feeder is tightly sealed and does not contain cracks.

Hang the Feeder Using Fishing Line

Here’s the best way to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders. Use fishing line!

Here’s what we mean.

One of the most effective methods is to hang the hummingbird feeder from a thin piece of fishing line. The ants will be unable to climb the fishing line hanging the feeder. (Or at least they can’t move along the line easily – or quickly.) They will (likely) eventually give up and move on. 

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06/21/2024 01:32 pm GMT

Put the Feeder Above Water or In a Shady Area of Your Yard

Put your hummingbird feeder above water! Ideally, in the shade. That way – ants will be less likely to crawl up into it because it’s more tricky to access. And the shade makes it a less hospitable environment in general.

Position the feeder away from trees and shrubs, as these provide a highway for ants to access the sweet liquid. You may also consider placing the feeder on a pedestal or other elevated surface. Ants have a hard time crawling up smooth surfaces. Positioning your feeder on a pedestal will make it more difficult for them to reach the nectar. 

Read More – 5 Ways to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden!

Use Adhesive Tape

While you can find several commercial ant-traps on the market, they can be expensive and messy. Want a more straightforward and less complicated answer? Use adhesive tape. Wrap a strip of tape around your feeder’s pole. Make sure the sticky side is facing out. The ants won’t be able to climb past the sticky tape. And they should quickly give up and go elsewhere. 

Make it Slippery 

One of the most effective ways to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders is to make the feeding area slippery. You can add a slippery surface by smearing a little petroleum jelly or vegetable oil around the feeding port. The ants will then be unable to get a foothold and will be unable to reach the nectar. 

Move it Often

One solution is to move the feeder around often. Moving the hummingbird feeder will disrupt the ant’s trail to the feeder and make it more difficult for them to find their way back. The only downside is that this might confuse the hummingbirds! So – this isn’t our favorite method to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders. But it works.

hummingbird feeder high in a tree
Here’s a hummingbird feeder suspended high up on a tree branch. Well done! Doing so should help reduce some ants. But – we would recommend going further and hanging the feeder from a piece of fishing line in this case. Also – if you must position your hummingbird feeder from a pole on the ground? Then at least put vaseline on the metal pole to help trap and dissuade ants.

Clean the Feeder Regularly 

Here’s one of our best tips. Ants are attracted to the sweet nectar, so it’s vital to remove any residue that they might be able to find. Finally, keep the area around the feeder clean and free of debris. If there is nothing for the ants to climb on, they’ll be less likely to reach the feeder. 

Use Bay Leaves or Diatomaceous Earth

One way to deter ants is to place bay leaves around the feeder. The potent smell of the bay leaves helps to keep ants away. They won’t be able to crawl over them without getting stuck. You can also try spreading a line of diatomaceous earth around the feeder’s base. Diatomaceous earth creates a barrier that ants won’t be able to cross. 

(Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a pesticide that harms all crawling insects. The rough texture is abrasive to their bodies. It may also harm beneficial insects – so it’s not our favorite, and we advise against it in most cases. But – it does work.)

red hummingbird feeder equipped with ant moat
Ant moats are an excellent method to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders. The moat makes it nearly impossible for pesky ants to latch onto your feeder. Ant moats are available on Amazon. You can also craft an ant moat at home. It’s easier than you think. All you need is a small jar lid – and a line. (Plus – your hummingbird feeder.)

Try Household Remedies Like Clove Bud or Peppermint Oil

Cloves and peppermint are two strong scents that humans enjoy. But ants detest them! You can make a homemade and natural anti-ant hummingbird feeder solution using clove bud or peppermint oil diluted in water.

Make the solution and spray it strategically near your hummingbird feeder. The scent may help repel the ants and keep them from getting into the feeder and spoiling the sugar water for the hummingbirds. 

You’ll need to freshen up the solution every few days or after rainfall. 

Other essential oils that can help keep ants away are lemon eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, and rosemary. Place a few drops of your chosen oil on a cotton ball and swab around the feeding ports and perches of your feeder. The oils will evaporate quickly. You’ll need to reapply them often.

Read More – Small Front Porch Decor Tips on a Budget!

The Last Resort – Use Ant Moats

If all else fails, try using a saucer hummingbird feeder with a built-in ant moat. Ant moats are one of the best ways to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders. They have a barrier of water that the ants cannot cross.

Fill the ant moat with tap water – and the ants won’t be able to access the hummingbird feeder. They’re locked out. For good!

honey bees feeding on sugar water hummingbird feeder
If you fuss about how to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders – you should know that ants aren’t the only pests! Honeybees and yellowjackets also love attacking hummingbird feeders – and they can’t resist sweet sugar. Bee guards can help keep flying pests at bay. We also recommend cleaning your hummingbird feeder regularly.

How to Keep Ants Out of Hummingbird Feeder FAQs

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Read More – Making a Rockery Garden! Our DIY Guide!


dark orange hummingbird feeder
Hummingbirds are easily one of the most breathtaking garden creatures that visit your garden! Ruby-throated hummingbirds love seeking out ornithophilous flowers. Ornithophilous flowers are usually bright and vibrant. That’s most likely why hummingbirds are always curious about bright-red and orange hummingbird feeders!

What to do about ants in hummingbird feeders? These are our final thoughts.

To keep ants out of hummingbird feeders, you’ll need to learn their habits and take preventative measures. Place the feeder in an area that is difficult for ants to reach, clean it regularly, and use ant-repelling substances around the feeder. 

If these tips don’t work or you’re constantly battling pesky ants, consider moving your feeder to a new location. 

With a little effort, you can enjoy watching these beautiful birds without worrying about pesky ants getting in the way. 

Do you have any other tips for keeping ants away from hummingbird feeders? 

Let us know!

Thanks for reading.

Have a great day!

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  1. I am horrified to see using pesticides as a solution! This will not only kill the hummingbirds, but beneficial honeybees as well…NEVER use pesticides, ever!
    Also, essential oils and highly fragrant items like basil may well keep the hummingbirds away as well….

    1. Hey Carol!

      Thank you so much for your honest feedback!

      We agree. We hate using synthetic pesticides! Especially around our lawn, garden, and feeders!

      We only advise using organic pesticides sparingly and strategically. And as a last resort.

      The world needs more wild pollinators. Not fewer!

      We updated the article with more organic strategies to help keep ants out of hummingbird feeders. No synthetic pesticides are required!

      We want to keep the honeybees and friendly pollinators safe, too!

      Thanks again!

      – Mike

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