How many fly traps or repellents have you tried? I have tried everything except the putrid ones. I can’t bring myself to do that. What I have tried is:
- sticky traps
- fly spray
- dietary supplement
- fly predator wasps
- various inverted or milk jug containers with some sort of liquid
- clean up
I have had fly-attracting animals for years, meaning chickens and goats. This year I got my first horse, so more attraction for flies. The neighbors have had cows in an adjacent field for years.
Here is my summary of effectiveness:
Sticky fly traps
I have tried a variety of sticky (mostly yellow) fly traps over the last few years. This includes hanging tapes and cylinders of various brands. Even when placed where flies are swarming in the chicken area, they don’t seem to catch very many flies.
Sun or shade, it doesn’t seem to matter. Garage or on a fence post near the chicken pen. In the chicken pen. In the greenhouse. Plain yellow or imprinted with images of flies to trick the little buggers into thinking it’s a party, the sticky fly traps don’t catch very many flies!
One of my biggest disappointment with the sticky traps was when they seemed to catch more of the predator wasps than flies! More on predator wasps below.
This is only something I use on my horse when getting ready to ride. She is not very fond of it, but it does have some effectiveness. I spray it on her body, then usually put it on my hands to carefully apply it to her face (then wash my hands), but a friend recently recommended a roller applicator and I plan to try that soon.
I have used two brands of fly spray for horses, so far. Of those, I like Pyrahana the best. There was a more noticeable difference in flies on my horse after using it. However, any of the sprays only lasts a couple of hours in my experience and according to reports I hear.
The only one I have tried is Bug Check, for my horse. The reviews were very strongly positive. It has been hard for me to tell how well it is working, but that could be because I have only had my horse for one summer and have never had a year without trying anything.
However, what I can say is that either she tips the bowl and most of it ends up on the ground, or she manages to eats most of the Nutrena Safe Choice and leave a lot of the Bug Check in the bottom of the bowl. All is not lost, though, as the goats seem to like the Bug Check and eat it up.
Will I use it again next year? Not unless I can come up with a way to see that she actually eats it.
Fly predator wasps
This is just a fun concept. The larva show up in the mail, you wait for them to start hatching, then you go spread them around the high fly areas. This is all explained in careful, helpful detail on the packages.
I got started late in the season with the fly predator wasps by 1 or 2 cycles. This is important because the fly predator wasps eat the fly larva, so it you miss the first laying of eggs, the flies get a head start.
Aside from seeing the small wasps hatching in the packages, I’m pretty sure I’m getting a good hatching rate because of how many were attached to my yellow sticky traps. Since the sticky traps weren’t catching flies so well, I removed the sticky traps. Maybe that will also help with late fall effectiveness of the predator wasps.
One of the major drawbacks to the predator wasps is cost. They are an expensive experiment. I will probably try them one more year, getting an earlier start to see if it makes a bigger difference. I bought mine from Arbico Organics. They call the wasps “fly eliminators.” The shipments come very regularly and in good condition, as promised.
Various inverted or milk jug containers with some sort of liquid
This is probably my favorite and most apparently effective fly solution so far. Not to mention least expensive.
It is similar to the putrid containers you can buy to capture flies, but with important differences. Most of the traps using putrid bait that I looked at – and I looked at a lot – list putrified egg whites as a main ingredient in the attractant. The thing is, I want to get rid of the flies because they make going outside so unpleasant. I can’t bring myself to set out a putrid smelling container that will make being near my animals just as objectionable.
For my patio, I purchased a pretty, green glass fly trap. Here is a link to something very similar, though not green. It caught flies right away. I put diluted lemonade in the bottom, where some sort of sweet and fruity juice is recommended. Even after it basically dried out, it continued to catch flied. I have not seen any good bees in it.
But for the animal areas, I decided to try the cheap, milk jug version of this. I have a hybrid slide-show/video about it below. In summary,
- put holes around the milk jug, 2-3 inches from the bottom
- put some diluted fruit juice and cat food in the bottom
- put the lid back on
- tie the milk jug 2-4 feet from the ground in an area where you want to control flies (try to keep it from tipping too much)
I will explain below it what I will do differently next time.
Oddly, this trap also caught a lot of earwigs! I am having trouble seeing how they got into it, but if someone has an earwig infestation, this seems like a good tactic! Also, the goats and horse did nothing more than sniff at it.
I will just throw away the milk jug fly trap when it is full enough or too smelly. Since it cost me next to nothing, I don’t have to wait any longer than I want to to to get rid of it guilt free.
What I will do differently with the milk jug fly trap next time
- put the holes a bit higher, about a third of the way up from the bottom of the jug
- add a little more liquid, which I will be able to do because the holes are higher
- make sure the liquid is not so high that the flies can crawl out a hole
Sure, cleaning up has it’s place. However, animals are messy and they poop regularly out in the open several times a day. It would be a full time job to keep their areas free of matter that attracts flies.
A variation of cleaning up is making sure the animals have a decent amount of space. This will allow them to stay away from the muck as much as possible. Horses, at least, do this. Or, as in the case of chickens and goats, this will make it less likely the muck will become as concentrated.
The holy grail of fly traps
There are a lot of promises in the advertisements about fly trap and fly repellents. Regardless, from mid August through the first hard freeze of fall, there are more flies than can be trapped.
It reminds me of the search for the fountain of youth. Yes, there are some things that can be done to stay healthy and avoid looking older than necessary, but old age and wrinkles come if you live long enough. It is best not to waste too much energy or money being worried about or trying to avoid the inevitable.
Likewise, flies are very prolific and global. They have their job to do with decomposing and they are hard to deter. While there are some steps that can be taken, a good attitude about the seasons and cycles of life helps. Fight the flies as well as you can, but don’t let them ruin your day.