Just can't stop them

Last year when writing about how these large ants always take over one of my hummingbird feeders, I got some good suggestions about how to stop them.

The "well" on top of the feeder itself is supposed to be filled with water to form a barrier that the ants can't cross. This works for about 10 minutes until the water evaporates. Okay, maybe an hour or two. Still not long-lasting enough to be practical.


I've tried using soapy water instead and it works longer, but if it rains the soap coats the outside of the feeder and the hummers won't visit.

One great suggestion I got in response to that previous post was to use double-sided tape on the pole to stop the climbing pests.

I didn't have double-sided, but I wrapped duct tape around the pole (sticky side out of course). This worked a little:

You can see that some of these guys made it higher than others. Eventually, they were able to cross the entire strip, regardless of how long it was:

In fact, many ants made it up:

I have no idea why they couldn't find their way out. Do hummingbirds like ant-flavored sugar water?

A gruesome trail of ant body parts remains:

I wonder if woodpeckers removed (ate) the bodies, or if the ants just continued their climbs after losing a foot or leg or antenna?

I look like a big black ant, but I'm not!

On another feeder's pole where the big ants are not a problem, the tape did its job on the smallest ants in my garden:

Those things are so tiny, but even they were able to eventually cross the tape barrier. I think the adhesive just dries out too quickly in our heat.

So I removed the tape and used some vegetable oil instead:

Hopefully that will stop the small ones, but I have no ideas on how to keep the big ones out of the other feeder.

Any more suggestions?


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Heather  – (July 1, 2012 at 12:15 PM)  

Try smearing a good bit of Vasoline in the water well. It doesn't evaporate and the ants shouldn't cross it.

Alan  – (July 2, 2012 at 9:22 AM)  

Heather: I tried vasoline on the pole, but the big ants just walked across it like it wasn't there. I don't know that having it in the well will be any different.

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