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Does Vaseline Keep Ants Out of Hummingbird Feeders?

A hummingbird feeds at a feeder.

With spring here and summer on the way, hummingbirds, the jewel of the garden, have returned. To attract them, many people put out feeders, but the bad news is that thanks to the sugary food hummingbirds require, those feeders could be plagued by ants.

A common suggestion is to add Vaseline around your feeder so ants can’t access it, but if you’ve thought about trying this hack, don’t. As it turns out, Vaseline is terrible for hummingbirds.

The idea behind this tip is pretty simple. The Vaseline is meant to prevent ants from crawling over the feeder so that they can’t get to the hummingbird food. After all, hummingbird food is just sugar and water. It’s like a feast for an ant. But you can’t guarantee that Vaseline won’t get onto the hummingbird, and that’s where the problem arises.

Ant Moat for Hummingbird Feeders

An ant moat is a much better method.

When Vaseline gets on the bird’s feathers, it can impact its control over them. This is important because hummingbirds use their feathers to thermoregulate aka control their body temperature. When they can’t do this, the birds can fall into heat exhaustion or hypothermia. Ultimately, it could kill them.

If you’re dealing with ants at your hummingbird feeder, try adding cinnamon around the base which repels the pest, or use an ant moat. An ant moat is essentially a small bowl of water that keeps the ants from getting to the feeder.

For those who want to draw more hummingbirds to their yard, use safe ways to keep ants at bay, always clean your feeder, and never add red food coloring to your hummingbird food.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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