How to Keep Pests Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders

And who wants that, right?

Surprising facts about hummingbirds

Hummingbirds will also eat small bugs and even spiders, not just nectar.

The brain of a hummingbird is at 4.2% of its body weight; ours is at 2%.

Hummingbirds hover by moving their wings in a figure-eight pattern as fast as 200 times per second.

At night, hummingbirds go into a mini hibernation (torpor) which allows them to conserve energy at night.

Common Pests and/or Threats To Hummingbirds

Overall, experts recommend that you keep your hummingbird feeders clean.

Place them in an area that isn’t prone to high winds to eliminate the dripping nectar that is a siren call to every pest you don’t want to deal with.

Use a sponge dipped in hot water at least one time per week to clean up any leakage and check to make sure all parts on your feeder are well tightened.

In addition, dump out old nectar and refill it with a room-temperature mixture weekly; twice per week when the weather is warm to ensure that the mix remains healthy.

Avoid commercial mixes; simple sugar and water in a 1 to 4 ratio (or 1 to 3 ratio in the winter) works best.


A search on the internet will return plenty of ideas for dealing with ants in your hummingbird feeders. For some people these ideas have brought mixed results, so keep looking until you find something that works.

Some common strategies include:

A moat

The idea is simple; you place a tray filled with water above the feeding ports of your hummingbird feeder. The ants get trapped in the water where they drown and die.

While this is an economically friendly option it may not work for everyone.

For example, if you fail to keep the moat filled with water the ants will be able to easily cross it and enjoy the nectar that you intended for your brightly colored, winged friends.


Another option is to coat your feeder’s hook or hanger with Vicks VapoRub or Vaseline, on the premise that ants don’t like walking across sticky surfaces and/or they are repelled by the smell of menthol.

The Vaseline will work, however, you’ll need to continually reapply it to keep the barrier up. And don’t try the Vicks’ VapoRub, as the smell also repels hummingbirds.

Which is, of course, not the results you’re after.

Another coating option is vegetable oil, applied to the base of the pole your feeder is hanging from. This does work, however it needs to be reapplied frequently to maintain its efficacy.


How to Keep Pests Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders
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Create a barrier over your hummingbird feeder.

Punch a hole in the middle of a plastic lid (e.g. from a tub of coffee or large ice cream bucket) that’s been coated with a pesticide or dried on cleaning product such as Formula 409.

Poke wire through the middle of the lid, then attach one end to your hummingbird feeder and the other to the hook or nail you’re hanging the feeder from.


Okay, now you’ve dealt with ants, what about flying insects such as bees?

Install bee guards over each port on your feeder. This is a wire mesh that is big enough for a hummingbird beak but prevents bees from reaching the sweet nectar.

How to Keep Pests Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders
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Obviously, bears aren’t a problem for everyone, but if you have them where you live, your feeders could become their target.

Pungent foods such as sunflower seeds or suet are what bears really love, but they have been known to knock down hummingbird feeders to get at the sweet nectar inside.

If a bear finds your feeder it will come back. It will also pass on the knowledge of the “free food” to its young, so you could have many generations pay you a visit.

While bears aren’t going to bother the birds, they can present a danger both to you and to themselves. If this happens, remove the feeders for a while until they don’t return.

You could try putting them out again, but there’s no real way to know whether or not they might decide to drop by again…just in case.

Praying Mantis

How to Keep Pests Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders
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 Interestingly, the praying mantis has been known to capture and eat hummingbirds, however, it’s not an everyday event.

Still, if you find a praying mantis hanging out on your feeder you might want to move it further away from any shrubs or trees to prevent giving them access to your colorful visitors.


Finally, our beloved household pets can also present a danger to the hummingbirds who gather in our yard.

Don’t blame them, however, it’s just instinct.

To avoid allowing a confrontation between Fluffy and any backyard beauties pay close attention to where you hang your feeders.

Don’t attach your hummingbird feeders to the eves of a house, a limb, or any place where your cat can easily climb.

Another option is to also put a bell on your cat as a warning for the birds.

If you like this post, you may find these valuable:

Bird Control: How To Keep Animals Out Of Your Attic And Chimney

How to Make Your Own Homemade Bug Spray

How to Attract Bees to Pollinate Your Garden