Protecting Your Hummingbird Feeder from Ants with an Ant Moat

For anybody that may have ever kept a hummingbird feeder, you may have already noticed that you will not just attract hummingbirds but also ants. 

This is because hummingbirds and ants both like nectar. Therefore, the sweet syrup that is in the bird feeder is a welcome banquet for both. Hummingbirds dislike ants because they eat their food and kill their young hatchlings. It’s a surprisingly common sight to see them try to desperately defend their young and their food by diving at the bird feeder in order to kill the ants. There is a way that you can help the hummingbirds, and that is by making an ant moat. 


What is an Ant Moat?

An ant moat is a device which is used to prevent ants from being able to get to your humming bird feeder. Ant moats act as a barrier between the ants and the bird feeder and the moat is generally filled with water. Because of this, the ants try to make their way to the syrup in the hummingbird bird feeder but they are either stopped by the ant moat or drown and die in the moat water. If you fill your ant moat with water, you will also be providing birds with a drinking area. 

Another alternative to filling an ant moat with water is to smear a generous amount of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, around the inside of it. The petroleum jelly will work in a similar way to water as it will prevent the ants from being able to get to the bird feeder. However, the advantage of using petroleum jelly over water is that it lasts longer and therefore won’t need to be re-filled as often as a water ant moat would. 


Make your own ant moat

Ant moats can come already attached to a bird feeder or they can be purchased separately from a local nursery or garden center. For economical reasons you may choose to make one yourself and it is quite a manageable task to take on. 

To make your own ant moat you will need to have a plastic cap from a spray can or cosmetics bottle. Drill or punch a hole in the base of the cap. If you have several humming bird feeders, you will need a cap for each feeder. Feed some wire through the hole. The length of the wire is unimportant. 

Seal the wire when it is roughly half way through the cap with hot glue. You can check that the hole is closed properly by filling the cap with some water and checking for drips. At the top and bottom ends of the wire make a hook shape. At the bottom end, you will attach your bird feeder while the top end is used to hang it from. 

When your ant moat is filled with either water or a Vaseline solution it will prevent the ants from being able to get to the hummingbird feeder.