How-To Tutorial with Pictures: "Heavy Duty Hummingbird Feeder Ant Trap that Doubles as a 'Watering Hole'"

Here's the end product. Have you seen the Baltimore Orioles
drinking out of them on the WWN "Bird Feed" Live Cam?
A few folks (mostly folks who don't live in Rockport) have asked us what the white things are hanging above our hummingbird feeders on the "Bird Feed" live cam. They are 'easy-to-make' homemade ant traps that we fill with water to keep the ants and other crawling critters off of the sweet feeders.

You can buy reservoirs from a few local stores here in Rockport (not as easy to find elsewhere), but I have cracked several of these myself during washing, so I created a heavier duty version that would last me many seasons.

I do have a few feeders that have reservoirs that are built-in, but generally speaking the built-in reservoirs are pretty shallow, and therefore dry up quickly on extremely hot, sunny days. These are deep, so they can go several days without a refill.

In the past, I have tried several versions including recycling a margarin container and the bottom of a 2 liter soda bottle, but those didn't seem to last very long--either cracking or falling apart over time. So here is what I came up with...and I have to say they work pretty well! I especially like that they don't require any gluing! ...Of course always use recycled parts when possible. Here I'm using some hardware that was leftover from another project.

What You'll Need to Make it As Shown:
  • A Power Drill with a 7/32 Bit
  • 1 Turnbuckle (That's the middle, metal part)--pick this up at any hardware store
  • 1 Large (or Medium Size works too) PVC End-Cap--That's the white part
  • (2) 1/4 inch Nuts
  • (1, or 2) Rubber Washers/Gaskets--You can find them in the Hose Aisle at the Hardware Store
  • 2 Wide Metal Washers that fit through Turnbuckle--Use what you have on hand, even if they don't match.
  • OPTIONAL: Non-Toxic, Outside Paint. The end cap can be painted for added camouflage or decoration. Be SURE you are using non-toxic paint, and only paint the outside surface. Avoid the inside part that holds water.
  1. Drill a 7/32 inch hole through the PVC end cap. You want the hole to be tight around the turnbuckle when you screw it in.
  2. Next, thread on (to the turnbuckle) 1 nut, then your metal washer, and then your rubber washer. Screw in the end of the turnbuckle to the PVC end cap that you wish to have on the bottom of the reservoir. Think about where your feeder will be hanging. 
    • Just so you know, turnbuckles come in 2 variations--with (2) "i" ends, or with an "i" end and hook end. 
    • Keep in mind that both sides turn opposite ways--so the rule about "lefty loose, righty tighty" won't apply in this case. You may need to use some pliers to screw in the turnbuckle if the hole is very tight. See 4th image below.
  3. Next, thread on the following elements onto the other side of your turnbuckle: nut, metal washer, rubber washer. 
    • NOTE: As long as you have 1 rubber washer on 1 side, and it's super tight you shouldn't have any leakage. They are a few bucks, so if you don't want to put one on both ends, you can get away with having 1 on one side only. If you want it to be super secure use 2 rubber washers on either side as I have done here.
  4. Then, on the inside of your PVC cap, thread in the other end of the turnbuckle. Remember, it may turn the opposite way then you expect.
  5. Lastly, depending on where you are hanging your feeder, you may require an S hook. Here I bought a large S hook for a shepherd's hook that has a large circumference. See bottom image below.
Voila! That's it. Leave a comment if you have questions. Good luck! - A

Alternative Version by Taylor H.

Instead of a turnbuckle you can also use a (1) eye bolt with a wing nut and a couple of locking nuts. In order to hang this you would need to wrap wire around 1 wing, and over to the other wing in an arch form.

Taylor has also used a lesser-grade end cap in order to save a few bucks. This would be especially helpful if you wanted to make a bunch for your yard. Thanks for sharing, Taylor!

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