Grab an Ant Moat to Help Keep Nectar Fresh
You may have noticed increased activity at your hummingbird feeders because the “crazies” are upon us! The downward stretch to summer’s end, when the tiny sprites are gearing up for Southern migration. As the slower traffic at feeders and nesting come to an end, hummingbirds are busy getting as fat as they can for the long journey home.
Ant moats may or may not be critical to your hummingbird feeder’s popularity. Simply put, it takes just one ant in nectar to ruin the party! The good-for-nothing pests must emit something extremely nasty for hummers to ignore sweet nectar… especially when you’ve just changed it and hung a sparkly clean feeder. It’s so annoying!
Avoid the headache and try an ant moat if you don’t use them yet. This minimal investment will yield big results, but you mustn’t let water evaporate for moats to function properly. One hack is to add a drop of salad oil to the water because it slows evaporation in extreme heat.
But other songbirds (for some strange reason) enjoy drinking from the moats! It’s rather strange when six birdbaths, two misters and a bubbler fountain are part of the garden habitat… we know this first-hand! Here’s a clever ant moat that works in a completely different fashion- by eliminating the evaporation process. you fill it just once or twice per month! It’s called the Detourant and looks like this:
Although other songbirds won’t be able to sip from it, this ant moat just about guarantees pest-free nectar for your hummingbirds… year after year and for many seasons to come! And if hummingbirds are still passing by your feeder without partaking – for pete’s sake… please change the nectar 🙂
Busy Buzzings Around the Ant Moats!
Dawn through early morning would definitely be the best time to catch local bird action around your yard. But let’s face it, not all of us are early-birds and busy schedules don’t always permit those few spare minutes of enriching watch time.
With southern migrations underway for many species, it’s a great time to catch the action! Dusk and the hour or two prior offer almost as much (if not more) backyard bird action.
Sitting on the deck last night with about 25 hummingbirds furiously buzzing about seemed almost magical. Sure we’ve had the sprites here all summer, but fewer numbers. Going through 15 pounds of sugar to keep 8 feeders filled and fresh over the last two weeks or so has been extra work but rewarding. So as not to waste a drop of nectar, the ever important ant moat is a true life saver, for the birds and for the wallet!
If you’ve been feeding hummingbirds for any amount of time, it’s likely you’re familiar with the handy-dandy device, but if this is season one of your new hobby, know that one little ant moat will save a whole lot of nectar!
Because ants can’t swim, feeders stay protected from the pesky things. But you must keep the moat at least half-full with water. Ants emit something truly nasty to hummingbirds, and it only takes one to ruin a whole feeder full of fresh nectar. With the feeding frenzy going on now, this is a big fat bummer for hummers!
If you’ve had a few sprites visit but are not really seeing them now… something’s wrong! Either nectar is not fresh, there are ants around, or even worse, yellow jackets 🙁 You can minimize the latter by keeping the outside of feeders clean, if they sway or leak, it’s an invitation to the nasty fliers.
Save money and provide hummingbirds the best nectar by making your own! It’s just plain table sugar and water… that’s it! No red dye, and nothing else for the solution as it’s harmful to their health. The standard ratio is 1:4 (1 cup sugar to 4 cups water) but at busy migration times when the hummingbirds are trying to fatten up for the long journey, the solution can be stronger, thus offering more calories. We go 1:3 when they arrive and when they depart.
Treat them well with fresh water sources (like a leaf mister shown here) and fresh food and they’ll grace your place next year. Site fidelity is another cool characteristic of these most intelligent birds!
If you put forth a little effort to help migratory birds on their way, you can sit back & enjoy the show.
Safe travels little ones, and we’ll see you next year on the flip side 🙂
The Ant Moat Accessory for All Sweet Feeding
Not just for hummingbird feeders, the all-important ant moat will protect nectar in butterfly and oriole feeders, they’re ideal for jelly feeders too! Ants adore sweet sticky anything, so as long as there’s a hanger, you can use an ant moat. It just comes between the feeder itself and the hook from where said feeder will hang.
Because ants can’t swim, the water inside the moat keeps them from reaching nectar. The pesky things must exude something quite distasteful as one single ant ruins a whole batch of nectar in the feeder, hummingbirds won’t touch it!
Basic colors are red, black, clear and orange for orioles. Some oriole and hummingbird feeders offer built-in moats, but they must be maintained and filled with water to serve their purpose. Let the moat run dry and like magic… ants will appear if they’re anywhere in close proximity.
Here’s a great “how to” video to make your own ant moat. So if you’re the crafty type, and have the time and patience to do these kind of projects, check this video, and ants be gone for good!