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 🙂
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 🙂
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!
“Every day, every single day I’m changing the nectar because of ants” my friend said in desperation. Insisting if she’d just use an ant moat, the problem would be solved. She kept saying her feeder had one, to which I replied “then keep it filled”. When she told me “you can’t” – I then insisted “then something’s upside down!”
How frustrating because it’s a fairly simple principle… ants won’t cross water because they never took swimming lessons. Gathering two moats and a new glass hummingbird feeder she had her eye on, it was time to see the moat that couldn’t be filled, it piqued my curiosity.
Upon seeing the cheap plastic feeder (it’s okay, we use them sometimes too) it was absolutely moat-less. “There’s no moat, that’s why the ants keep getting to it”. I showed her the little cup-shape moat, said to fill it with water and hang the hummingbird feeder directly below.
It was like a light went off, and a clear understanding was now obvious. Why would we even mention it? Because everyone starts somewhere when feeding the birds. When you’ve been doing it for 30 years or so, much knowledge is gained as to what works and what doesn’t. The hobby’s become wildly popular in the past few years, which means there’s a lot of folks who are fairly new to backyard birding.
Everyone loves hummingbirds, they’re one of summers’ highlights, but ants can ruin the experience quickly… for the tiny sprites too! It takes just one pesky ant to sour a feeder full of fresh nectar – and that’s a bummer. They must emit something terribly fowl to hummingbirds?
Save your nectar and your money by using a moat and making your own sugar-water solution. It’s SO easy and really fast, no red dye needed. Table sugar and water at a 1:4 ratio… that’s it! No other ingredients as they’re harmful to the birds. During migration, the nectar can be a bit stronger at 1:3, the extra calories serve the birds well for their long journey ahead.
Oh yeah, and the pretty glass feeder was an instant hit with her hummingbirds, she said it took about four seconds before they discovered it and started feeding!
Sugar, anything with sugar is bound to attract ants! Be it hummingbird, oriole, butterfly or any fruit & jelly feeder… ants will find them-especially in hot, dry weather. They spoil nectar for hummingbirds, the sprites will not drink from a feeder containing ants. Same goes for grape jelly and oranges set out for orioles, and even butterfly feeders offering nectar. Ants must exude something quite nasty as it only takes one to ruin a meal.
The most basic ant moat is simplistic in design, an upside-down umbrella or cup that holds water. Ants drown when trying to cross water. Some prefer to coat the inside with petroleum jelly instead, which also acts as a barrier for ants. To slow water evaporation, you can a drop or two of cooking oil to the moat’s water.
Etched hummingbird feeders shown above have unique wood tops and bases and offer their own optional ant moat. With sleek style and matching wood grain, this type of moat features a grooved underside containing an anti-ant substance that lasts for several years. It’s neat and clean with no filling required.
Parasol crafts a mean ant moat, in red or black it looks like, well… a parasol! We’ve seen goldfinches actually drink from these on hot summer days, even though several birdbaths are always kept clean and full! The ant moats work well with any feeder, regardless of how many vessels.
You can feed hummingbirds without attracting pesky ants… of course using a no-drip feeder really helps.
As for bigger pests? We caught a raccoon red-handed, drinking from a feeder on the deck the other night. He had both hands wrapped around the feeder, guzzling like it was beer! New solution: bring said feeder inside at night… dang!