In all the decades we have lived in this house on this farm, this is the first year we did not get a break from flies. We were shooing them off our faces all through winter. The frosts were only very light and did not get cold enough to kill them In addition, the farms around here are not particularly dung beetle friendly, so there are more flies than there should be and they really ruin the outdoor life. It is no fun gardening or doing anything outdoors when there are flies. Because they are there to degrade the quality of my life I can’t just ignore them, I believe in fighting back!
When I first came to Barraba, a local farmer, Mr Allan, showed me fly traps that he had made and had scattered all around his sheep property. They were trapping flies by the bucket load! And making a big improvement to the health of his sheep. I remember him telling me that he had a plastics company all ready to start making and marketing these fly traps. However, they did not go ahead with it and gave him no explanation. He said that it was obvious they had been bought out by the chemical manufacturers. The people who make ‘sheep dip’ for example, would go bust if everyone had fly traps like his!
Here’s the design:
1. The top is a piece of fly screen and a rubber band made from an old inner tube. (Yes, we have stuff lying around … called JICs – just in case). You could also use a sheet of plastic, perspex or glass.
2. The top bucket has a hole in the base – the same size as a plastic bottle with no base. Glue the two together so that it’s water tight.
3. Lid of the bottom bucket has an equally big hole cut in it. I used a sheet metal nibbler to cut this hole. It wasn’t easy, but doable.
4. The lower bucket has small holes, the size of flies, drilled about half way down its sides.
5. At the bottom is the smelly bait. I wish I could make it smell like a BBQ so the whole trap could go near the house! I’m working on that idea, but at the moment I put raw prawn heads in there every week or so. Garlic prawns for dinner is a bonus
This is my version of Mr Allan’s design:
He used 2 x 10 litre buckets, but this one uses 2 x 20 litre buckets. I think he had a pane of glass on the top. The bait is in the bottom bucket and the trap is in the top. The flies go through small holes in the side of the bottom bucket. The lid of the bottom bucket has a large hole in it, corresponding to a hole in the base of the top bucket. A bottomless plastic bottle is glued onto this hole. After doing whatever it is they do with the bait in the lower chamber the flies see the sky above them and fly up through the bottle. Once in the top chamber they can’t get out. When they get too tired they fall into water and drown.
The trap is not too difficult to make. Besides drilling holes, the only tricky bit is to glue the top section of a plastic drink bottle onto the hole in the base of the top bucket. You will need a plastics glue. I use Selley’s 3 in 1.
Here’s a little movie that shows you flies going into the trap.
And looking inside the top bucket.