Learning to make a homemade fly trap is as easy as gathering a few supplies you’re likely to have laying around the house. DIY fly traps are great for the environment, cheap, often FREE to make, and work as well if not better than store bought options.
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Each summer, especially during harvest & canning time, our curing spaces & kitchen, become swarm central. A haven for flies of all kinds, especially house flies, gnats, & fruit flies. Can someone say, “Ewww”?
Being eco conscious, sprays & chemicals are just not a sustainable option for pest control here on the hill. Thus, homemade diy fly traps to the rescue.
After researching how to make my own fly trap, like with most everything, one size or in this case kind does not fit all scenarios. Depending on the kind of fly you’re targeting will determine the kind of trap & bait needed.
There are many varieties of flies. However, for us we have a main few who are just plain annoying. These are the ones we are targeting when making our fly trap(s).
- COMMON HOUSE FLY – These are most likely the ones most see in their homes. The common house fly has a grey body, 4 dark grey/black strips along the back of its body. Although short in life (around 21 days), they can lay thousands of eggs during their short life span
- HORSE FLY – The horse fly is large in comparison to other flies, can be a yellowish, brownish, or black in color, and has a huge head in comparison to its body. These little suckers bite. The females anyway.
- GNATS & MOSQUITOES – Gnat is a common name for a large group of insects within the dipterid suborder Nematocera, especially those in the families Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae and Sciaridae (to get all sciencey for a minute 🙂 ) These insects can be both biting & non-biting. No matter, they are all unwanted, especially in my house
- FRUIT FLY – These may be the most annoying of all for us here on the hill. Particularly during canning season. It seems once you have a few, you have a million.
- BOTTLE FLY aka BLOW FLY – These irridescent green bodied flies (along with a few others) are not just pesky. They can also be deadly to animals (our concern is our chickens here), causing fly-strike.
You don’t need to make a different trap for each of these targeted flies. However, you may want to put more consideration into the bait being used as some are more attracted to certain bait than others. More on that below 🙂
HOW HOMEMADE FLY TRAPS WORK
The basic premise of diy fly traps working is based on a couple of fun fly “facts”.
- FLY EYESIGHT – Flies have compound eyes, meaning their eyes are made up of thousands of receptors. In a nutshell? They have crappy vision 🙂 They can, however, detect movement & changing light patterns
- FLY SMELLING ABILITIES – They are highly attracted to scents. Sweet (think sugar or fruit here) & nasty (think rotting meat & feces) scents alike will attract many flies
We basically are betting on both the strengths & weaknesses of the mighty fly when creating our homemade fly traps. They are attracted to the scent of whatever is in our attractant or bait, & literally can’t see well enough to fly out of the trap.
DETERMINING THE BEST DIY FLY TRAP
Depending on where you will be placing your fly trap, at least for us, will determine which fly trap you create. After all, a fly trap made using a recycled soda bottle will not be as attractive on a kitchen counter as one made using a mason jar. Just sayin’.
That being said, we created 3 versions of homemade diy fly traps. Two, which we will use in outdoor problem areas, our curing area in the garage & our chicken coop, using the repurposed bottles, and one, which we will use indoors in the kitchen, using a bit more attractive mason bottle. Each using specific bait for attracting (and not attracting beneficial pollinators) to the trap.
BEST BAIT FOR HOMEMADE FLY TRAPS
Probably the best method of getting rid of any fly is prevention in the first place. The most natural prevention? Parasitic Wasps. They are beneficial people! They are nature’s way of keeping pests under control….naturally.
Parasitic wasps not only keep annoying flies at bay, but hornworms as well. We welcome the signs of these insect predators every year. The white eggs of parasitic wasp along the hornworm are a welcome sign nature’s help is on the way.
Next best fly trap bait? Depends on where you will have the trap and what you want to attract to it. Below are several options.
INDOOR HOMEMADE FLY TRAP BAIT
Typically, indoors, for us in the kitchen, you will want to attract house flies & fruit flies. For this purpose we like to use a sweetened ACV mixture. To make this bait, add the below ingredients into your trap (our favorite indoor trap instructions are detailed below.
- ACV – 1/4 C to 1/2 C apple cider vinegar (fruit flies are especially drawn to this scent)
- SWEETENER – 2-4 Tbl sugar or add cut pieces of fruit (banana, melon etc) House flies are drawn to the sweet
- DISH SOAP – 1 Tbl dish soap. Dish soap creates a sticky coating on wings & legs making it difficult if not impossible for them to fly
OUTDOOR HOMEMADE FLY TRAP BAIT
For our outdoor fly trap, we are looking to capture horse flies and gnats/mosquitoes. The attractant or bait for these flies varies just slightly from the above house fly/fruit fly bait.
As we are beekeepers, obviously we don’t want to attract the bees or other beneficial pollinators for that matter using honey or sugar (as many bait recipes are calling for). What’s left? Something stinky.
- WATER – Fill the bottom of your homemade trap with at least several inches if not more of water
- STINKY ROTTING FOOD – Food that will smell and smell bad when decomposing or rotting. Think meat or seafood here. The stinkier the better. A few pieces of your choice will do.
- DISH SOAP – 1-2 Tbl of dish soap
The longer the food decomposes in the water the better. Also the stinkier it will become for at time. Placing the fly trap above nose level in the area needed helps reduce the lovely “scent”.
HOMEMADE FLY TRAP BAIT FOR COOPS & BARNS
Lastly, the homemade diy fly trap we use for our chicken coop, but would work amazingly in a barn as well, is most likely the stinkiest of all. Using just 3 ingredients.
- WATER – Enough to fill the bottom of your trap by 2-4 inches at least
- FISH OR SHELL FISH – A good sized piece of fish, shrimp, clam, or other shellfish to decompose over time
- DISH SOAP – 1 to 2 Tbl dish soap
This bait is not for the faint of heart. As the fish decomposes it is stinky, but is also probably the best working attractant you can use. We will, however, keep it out in the already stinky coop 🙂
HOMEMADE FLY TRAP BAIT OPTIONS
Do you have to use the specific attractants or bait that we’ve listed above? Absolutely not! Think up the most disgusting things you can think of and they will most likely work amazingly!
- FRESH FECES OR MANURE
- FOOD SCRAPS
- COMBINATION OF ANY OR ALL
The longer your bait sits marinating or fermenting, the better 🙂
HOW TO MAKE A HOMEMADE FLY TRAP
There are several ways you can make homemade fly traps. We use two methods, one for indoor use & one for outdoor use.
HOW TO MAKE AN INDOOR HOMEMADE FLY TRAP
As previously mentioned, the OCD in me didn’t relish the thought of having a diy fly trap in the house that wasn’t shall we say as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Not that the indoor version is all that grand, but at least it looks a bit better 🙂
Using my love of all things mason jar, to make the indoor version, you will need the following…
- MASON JAR – We used a pint size mason jar
- PLASTIC WRAP – Cut out just enough to cover the mason jar with a bit extra for the ring holder
- METAL CANNING RING – Just what it is. A metal ring to screw the plastic over the top of the mason jar
- BAIT – Use the indoor fly trap bait option listed above or one of your choosing
Add your indoor fly trap bait (ACV, fruit, and dish soap was used here) to the mason jar, place the plastic wrap over the mason jar top & screw it on with the metal canning ring. Slice several holes in the top of the plastic wrap.
Set the fly trap on a counter and let it do its thing. Catch flies 🙂
HOW TO MAKE AN OUTDOOR HOMEMADE FLY TRAP
To make an outdoor homemade fly trap, one that although not as pretty as a mason jar trap works just as well, gather the following…
- RECYCLED SODA BOTTLE – We used a 2 liter seltzer water bottle for making these fly traps
- SHARP CUTTER – We used a box cutter to cut through the tough plastic. A sharp knife or scissors would work as well
- BAIT – Choose one of the fly trap bait options listed above for outdoors
To make this outdoor version, simply cut the top off the bottle, 2-3 inches down from bottom of the pour spout. This creates a “funnel” type shape when inverted upside down. Remove the cap from your “funnel”, fill with your bait of choice, invert the “funnel” and place down into the bottle.
The bait liquid should be approximately 1-2 inches below the funnel spout. OPTIONAL: cut 2 holes on either side of the bottle, use string or twine to hang them.
We here on the hill are always looking for sustainable, unique, fun diy’s that don’t cost an arm or a leg but really work well. These homemade fly traps are all that and more.
Making your own diy fly traps literally takes about 10 minutes. The reduction in fly population is worth every second it takes to make them.
Have you tried making them? What bait worked best for you? Join in the conversation and be sure to follow us on social media channels by simply clicking the icon below. Happy DIY’ing!
Love, Light, & Laughter ~
ADDITIONAL DIY INSPIRATION
“WHY WE SHOULD DIY” Can DIY’ing actually be good for our health?
“HOW TO DECORATE WINDOW BOXES” One of our favorite diy’s here on the hill every year.
“DIY TEA TOWELS” Making your own kitchen towels is not hard. Did we mention they make wonderful gifts too?
This DIY was featured at the Unlimited Monthly Party!