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How to Keep Ants Away from Hummingbird Feeders

Most people look forward to that moment when they get their first enthusiastic hummingbird of the season fluttering toward their beautiful hummingbird feeder.

Unfortunately, hummers aren’t the only things that love hummingbird feeders. If squirrels are the number one enemy of seed feeders, then ants are the number one enemy of hummingbird feeders.

I have a love-hate relationship with ants. While I understand their countless benefits to the environment — they provide nourishment to soil, pollen to flowers and even food to birds — they are terribly frustrating when they invade your kitchen or picnic.

If you’re looking for a hassle-free spring without having to worry about ants conquering your feeders and scaring away the hummers, then use these tricks to keep the ants away.

Get a dripless feeder

The best solution to anything is usually prevention. Ants are generally unable to get to nectar in dripless hummingbird feeders that require hummers to use their tongues to retrieve nectar from the inside.

Move the feeder a few feet away

Once ants find something, they will continue  raiding it until it’s completely depleted. That’s why one of your best bets is to move the hummingbird feeder away. It’s never a good idea to move a feeder once birds have gotten used to it, but if it’s being swarmed by ants and other insects, all you have to do is move it a few feet away and the bugs will lose the scent, so to speak. Just be sure that your hummers will still be able to find it.

10212767Get an ant guard

If the ants are still managing to find a way to your feeders, add an ant moat to the top of your feeder. This is a small device that looks like a small cup filled with water. It’s strategically placed where the wire meets the feeder, so if an ant tries to come down, it’ll be turned away by the water. An ant moat is by far one of the easiest and most environmentally friendly way to repel ants.

Use fishing line to hang up the feeder

Another alternative to the ant moat is using fishing line to hang the feeder. Thin fishing line is usually too slippery for ants to climb down.

Don’t use any chemicals or oils

Popular advice around the web to get rid of ants is to put oil on the wire, but you should generally avoid introducing any chemicals or oils to feeders where birds eat. It’s safer and smarter to be natural.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. I have two dripless feeders. They do not stop ants – when I take the feeders down to clean and refill them the reservoirs themselves invariably are filled with ants.
    The ant moat looks interesting – will try that. in the meantime, I have placed ant traps around the base of the poles.

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