Do you have a hummingbird feeder? I have two, because hummingbirds are super entertaining, beautiful birds to watch. They have so much personality! This winter, when it was below freezing for weeks, I even cycled the feeders in and out of the house so that the birds would have unfrozen food. (I might be turning into a crazy hummingbird lady.) A problem that cropped up the first spring I had feeders, though, is that ants marched all the way up to the feeder, and went nuts for the sugar water. Neither I nor the hummingbirds liked that, so I found a way to build an easy hummingbird feeder ant moat to prevent ants from being able to get to the food.
Last year after one of my feeders started leaking, I upgraded to this feeder, which is way better than the red plastic ones. It’s much easier to take apart to clean, with fewer parts, and I think it’s much prettier. I like it so much that I’ve replaced both of my red plastic ones.
I made my very first hummingbird feeder ant moat out of a wine cork and a shaving cream lid, and I didn’t use a drill, so it was even simpler than this one. After a couple rounds of making these for my feeders, I’ve refined the design a bit, and one of the best things I’ve found to use for it is plastic Easter eggs. So I thought I’d better get this out there while you might still have some leftover plastic eggs sitting around (or be able to pick up some on clearance.) This isn’t the most photogenic DIY, but it might be useful if you have problems with ants in your sugar water.
Hummingbird Feeder Ant Moat
Half of plastic Easter egg, or small, deep plastic lid/cap.
Small piece of wood – I used a piece of 2×2, but you can use whatever as long as the ends of two cup hooks can fit.
Two cup hooks – I used a vinyl coated one for the one that will go in the water, and a regular metal one for the other.
Spray paint (optional)
Hot glue gun
3/32″ drill bit
1. Drill a hole in the bottom of one half of the egg, or a plastic lid. I used to use shaving cream lids, until they stopped selling shaving cream with lids a few years ago. I was eyeing the spray paint cap while making this, because I bet that would work well, too. Depending on the type of plastic, and whether it’s brittle or softer, you might be able to get away without drilling, but the other half of this particular egg cracked when I tried to screw the cup hook into it without drilling. Drill a hole in the top middle of the wood piece to make it easier to screw in the cup hook.
2. Screw a cup hook (the rubber coated one, if you have one) through the bottom of the egg from the inside, and into the piece of wood. Screw it into the wood as far as it will go. Screw the other cup hook into the center bottom of the piece of wood.
3. Squeeze hot glue into the bottom of the egg to seal up around the hole. Let cool. I imagine that waterproof silicone caulk would also work for this.
4. Optional: Give everything a coat of spray paint to match your feeder, and let dry. This is actually the first time I’ve painted my moat, but it’s much prettier painted, and I expect that it may help protect the wood, and therefore make it last longer. So, practical and pretty, hopefully.
Hang your feeder from the cable tie, fill the moat with water, and watch as frustrated ants march away!
As I mentioned, I’ve had to make new ant moats a couple of times, but these are so quick and cheap to make that I don’t mine replacing them every year or so. Once was because I let the plastic cap freeze over the winter, and it cracked. The plastic does get brittle from being in the sun after a summer or two. Another time was because the untreated wood eventually rotted, and another time was because my neighbor’s cat decided she’d try to catch a hummingbird, and I saw her pull the whole feeder down.
My indoor cat (Delicious) likes to watch the birds, too, but the one who gets to go outside (Adventurous) will only glance their way if they’re hovering in front of her, chirping in her face. One of the best things I’ve ever seen was the time I watched a hummingbird carefully collecting Adventurous’ fur from the top of a fence she routinely climbed over, though. I hope some hummingbird babies enjoyed their soft nest lined with cat belly fur!