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Dave Harnish
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Dave's Repair Service
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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 with.

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 squeeze-bulb.

Hummingbird feeder with ant barrier

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! Try it!

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 Hummingbirds, drop me an email, will you? Thanks!

Mrs Humb 2007


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:

Homemade bird feeder carrier

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.

Hummingbird feeder carrier


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