How to Keep Ants Out
of Your Hummingbird Feeders
Here's a simple little trick I've used for many years
with great success, and I thought maybe someone else could use it, too.
We've been feeding more and more Ruby-Throated
Hummingbirds every year here in NE PA for the last decade or so, and
it's a blast! We're up to a half-dozen feeders now, and adding more
every year. Seems the more feeders you have, the more hummers you end up
In July, when the young leave the nests, we usually have 30-40 of the little buggers buzzing around the back porch at once,
fighting for a spot. It's like being inside a hive of giant bees -
except they don't sting. They're fearless, and become used to people
pretty quickly. A lot of fun, especially in early evening when they're
all stoking up for a chilly night!
But Hummers aren't the only critters that love our
sugar water solution (1:4). I used to have problems with ants in the
feeders, but this little trick has taken care of that.
In the picture below, you'll notice a small piece of
an old terrycloth towel wrapped around the feeder hanger. Every few
weeks through the summer, I soak this piece of cloth with a teaspoon or
so of kerosene, dispensed with a small, turkey-baster style
Ants won't cross that barrier, at least the ants we
have here in the Northeast. I've watched about every 'sweet-toothed' ant
species we have try to get across this, and they all panic when
they get near it, and take off in the other direction! Works great!
Not exactly an appliance related subject, I
know <grin>, but I thought someone could use this simple little trick.
And hey, if you've had success with any other
Hummingbird feeding tricks, or had any unusual experiences with
drop me an email, will you? Thanks!
Note: Since first writing this article, I've learned a few more
anti-ant tricks from other bird lovers. 'Haven't tried these yet, but
I'm told that Avon's Skin so Soft, insect repellents, and even
chalk, also deter ants. Chalk's especially intriguing to me, because it
seems it'd be less harmful to Hummers as the others. I want to try that,
but so far this season (as of early July 2012, anyway) we haven't had
any ant issues at our feeders.
I still have to bring them in every night, along with the seed
and suet feeders, to discourage the bears (Now there's a nuisance!
At least ants don't smash every feeder they steal from!) Btw, here's
the low tech tool I've used for years to carry multiple feeders:
It's just a 3 foot piece of an old broom handle, with screw
hooks spaced about 8" apart. Sometimes I wish it were longer and had
a few more hooks, but it's a real time and trip saver for me. It
hangs, with the feeders attached, from two ceiling hooks in our back
'mud room' every night.
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Many Thanks! - Dave
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