Flies – The Ever Present Pest

Flies, common houseflies, seem to be the bane of every homesteader.  It’s not practical to keep animal areas sanitized and clean.  Flies are an ever-present nuisance.  Fly traps with an attractant bait areFlyCropped a good means to reduce your homestead of these unwanted pests.  I decided to investigate an efficient means to reduce the number of flies on my homestead.  To give flies credit; however, I first researched how they might a benefit to us.  The website eHow listed 3 benefits of flies: 1.  Estimating time of death based on maggot development.  2.  Maggot therapy for wounds.  3.  Ingredients for commercial fish and livestock feed.  Well, none of these appeal to me on my homestead.  Flies are a significant nuisance; especially during the hot, humid South Georgia summer.

For the last couple of years, I have bought commercial fly traps to help keep flies at bay.  I resisted chemical sprays around my homestead.   The traps that I purchased were one use only; use and dispose of.  Not until recently have I considered reusing the containers and preparing attractant at home.  Frankly, the idea of cleaning out old fly traps didn’t appeal to me, but reusing the fly traps can save money and that did appeal to me.  You can purchase commercial fly attractant to reuse the fly traps, or you can create your own homemade attractant.  I researched on the internet many ways to trap flies including homemade traps and homemade attractant.  Since I already had the traps, I decided to try various attractants to see which homemade concoction worked best.  My daughter gave me a lecture on the scientific method along with a recommendation for a control against which to compare my hypothesis.  So, I devised an experiment.

A repeated theme for fly attractants on the internet was some variant of sugar and water or vinegar.  So, I decided to try the following combinations of attractant:

  1. Vinegar and Sugar (1 cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar)
  2. Water and Commercial Attractant (the whole dissolving bag)
  3. Water and Sugar (1 cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar)
  4. Water and Maple Syrup, Thank you, Mike, my brother in Vermont (1 cup water, 2 tablespoons maple syrup)

I had 4 clean and unused fly trap containers that I mixed the concoctions in.  I placed the jars in a heavy fly area next to my young flock of Rhode Island Reds.

The start of the experiment – No Flies

After 1 day, the verdict was painfully obvious.  Hands-down, the commercial fly attractant was the best.

After 1 day – Lots of Flies


After Day 2 – Lots more Flies


As you can see, the commercial fly attractant jar had a lot of flies.  WaterandCommercialAfterAnother unexpected benefit was that is it also trapped hundreds of gnats as well.  Around here in Southern Georgia, sometimes the gnats are worse than the mosquitos.  Hmmm, I wonder if it catches mosquitos too?  Another experiment for another time.

Coming in a distant second was the vinegar and sugar concoction.  The mixtures of water and sugar, as well as water and maple syrup, didn’t attract many flies at all.  I suspect any flies that flew in there, did so by accident.

Well, my quest for homemade fly attractant met with some interesting results.  The commercial fly attractant was very effective to draw flies into the trap.  In addition, the physical trap itself was well designed to keep flies contained once they entered.  I plan to up the ante with my next experiment.  I found that over-ripe bananas might also add to the attraction for flies.  Also, rancid meat might also help.  I will try additional baits to see if a homemade fly attractant is as effective as a commercial version.  I’ll update this post when the results are in.  In the meanwhile, if you have a recommendation for a fly attractant recipe, feel free to leave me a comment or email.  I’ll try it.  Thanks.

3 thoughts on “Flies – The Ever Present Pest

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  1. The expression “You attract more flies with honey” comes to mind, it’s meaning to get better results by speaking kindly to someone than being nasty…but the expression must have some background to it. Unfortunately, I’m thinking since neither the sugar nor the maple worked, honey probably wouldn’t either. Maybe worth adding to the experiment though.
    Also I found this. I started the video at where she says what the bait is made of but you might be interested in the whole video after.
    A different approach (Justin Rhodes is the coolest):

    1. I like youtube. I learned how to drive my tractor on youtube :). I’m going to try the fly attractant recipies they mentioned. Thanks!

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