Upping the Ant…e

antsHundreds of the pesky things…in the feeder, on the feeder, and a bagillion of them on the metal hanging bracket, wooden columns, etc.  UGH.  I removed the feeder and immersed it in a bucket of soapy water.  That did away with the Cling-Ons.  Then I used Febreeze and sprayed it where they remained.  It kills them hard without being worrisome for pets, etc.  (Yes, I’m sure that even ants have some good points, but right now, I could care less.)

This has happened every year we’ve tried to feed hummers, and every year, I’ve ended up just removing the feeder.  I know they love that sugary feast.  I’ve been scouring the net for some natural deterrents and have found a couple that sound promising, but I thought I’d turn to you to see if you had any foolproof “ant-icide” methods.  Vaseline is supposed to work well when applied to the hanger, and smeared around the food openings, but I can see that becoming an icky mess, even for the hummers.  Cinnamon is another natural remedy that seems to be popular.

Anyone care to weigh in?


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

12 thoughts on “Upping the Ant…e”

  1. I think I’d just give up. I’d hate to see all those ants. I think this is a big year for them. We always have an occasional one in the house during the spring, but this year there have been more. Not invasive, but too many for me. And they are climbing the boards of the raised beds in the vegetable garden. I wonder if they are living in the soil. Tom says they were probably always there, but I don’t like seeing them. They scramble when I water the beds, and I hate to admit it but I hope they are dying.

  2. Hi Nancy, We finally bought a feeder that has a waterwell (though you can buy just the waterwell) and it has kept the ants down a good bit. My feeder hangs and the ants can’t get to the nectar.

  3. I have a couple of those bells that I smear with vaseline. The trick to keeping it off the feeders is to hang it upside down so when the hot weather hits the vaseline stays in the bell. Otherwise, you’re right, it is really messy on the feeders. I’ve been doing this for a few years and it’s worked very well. Now if I could just find such a simple solution for the hornets that come to the feeder…

  4. Nancy~~I have this problem, too…and the waterwell does keep the ants out of the sugar water…but I have to empty it frequently! gail

  5. Nancy, water is the answer if you can find some way of putting the feeder so it is surrounded with water. Another idea perhaps you could give the ants there own feeder!! I have lots of ants as well but we usually manage to co-exist until late summer when I have to resort to ant powder! If they are away from plants then I use boiling water.

    Good luck, best wishes Sylvia (England)

  6. It’s terrible to have ants around the house. We don’t feed the birds on principle because of the cats, but I do have lots of bee balm in ther herb garden so we have lots of hummers, too.

  7. Thanks everyone for your great suggestions! I imagine that the feeder will just stay down for the summer. Perhaps someday I’ll have a place to hang it where the ants won’t matter — though the hummers won’t come if there are ants, anyway. My garden is on a balcony, so we can’t have the pesky critters around at all or it would make spending time there unbearable. Your suggestions are all good ones, however, and I’ll file them away for future reference. I’ll replace the feeder with a basket of something that’s attractive to the hummingbirds. :)

  8. We’ve been fairly successful with a substance called Tanglefoot applied to the feeder hanger as an ant deterrent.

    It’s incredibly sticky and was something my husband knew about from pollinator research (who knew that would be useful!)

    But even with that, ants ARE quite pesky on hummingbird feeders. I just keep replacing the sugar water (and dumping out the ants) but then, we don’t have them all over the porch.

    Good luck!

  9. My husband found a feeder for me once that works great. It is a fairly cheap feeder as well. Inverted cone shaped, it has a ring that sits at the top, smaller end of the cone. I put a small amount of oil in that ring. The ants can’t pass the oil to get to the feeder itself. Ta da!

    That sounds like a good solution, Debi — and again, thanks to everyone for your ideas! As the feeder hangs on the balcony, that many ants make it pretty unpleasant to sit out there, so I’ve removed it for now. If I had a place to hang it a little farther away, I would. Hopefully we can figure something out. :)

  10. Good morning Nancy, I was happy to see your comment this morning as I hadn’t seen you on any blogs that I visit lately and was wondering about you. I see you are trying to stay above all the rainfall up there in the northeast. My family in Maine are also dealing with it and the coolness of this season. I hope some sun comes soon for you all.

    This post caught my eye because I think the ants are related to all the rain. I’ve never seen as many as are around this year. And while we haven’t had the rain lately, the rainy spring sure helped the bugs and ants are a real issue. I hung some hummingbird feeders next to my computer on the window on the second story of my house and let me tell you the ants found it no problem. I finally got tired of watching them even though the hummingbirds still ate from the feeder, I took the feeder down. Then of course the ants came in looking for food. GRRRRR! One good note on the ants on the hummingbird feeders, the finches are landing on the feeders and eating the ants. I’d never seen it before and enjoy that. Anyhow, now that I’ve written a book, I hope you have a great day and you and your family are doing well.

  11. I don’t have any solutions Nancy, I was curious if anyone else did. I have the same problem but I refuse to stop putting my feeders out. I just want to see the hummers no matter how many ants the feeders draw in. I hope you are finally getting a little sunny weather?

  12. Hi Nancy,
    I haven’t had the time to visit everyone lately but am following through bloglines. I noticed this post while reading through some of your older posts today.
    Several years ago I bought 2 little bells from countrystorecatalog.com for my hummer feeders and haven’t had a problem with ants since. They’re quite inexpensive. You smear vaseline on the inside of them and hang them above the feeder (the feeder hangs from the bell which hangs from a hook). They’re not messy at all and work great. It’s a shame to have to miss out on the pleasure of hummers because of the pesky ants. Give them a try!

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