The Best Homemade Fly Trap (DIY)

Looking for the best homemade fly trap so you don’t have to go through a bunch of them that don’t work?  You’ve come to the right place. The BEST homemade DIY fly traps and the best (albeit GROSS) bait to use.

Homemade fly trap made out of a mason jar and a construction paper cone hangs on a brick wall.

 

If you’re here searching for information on getting rid of fruit flies, that post can be found here. And it’s a good one!


When I first discovered Flystrike on my chicken Cuddles my first concern was helping her get better.  But once we were over that hurdle, I devoted pretty much all my time and attention to the most effective way to get rid of the bottle flies that laid maggots in her and nearly killed her.  

Bottle flies are the ones that have a green, iridescent body.  THOSE are the trouble flies. The ones that are attracted to raw meat and garbage and dog poo. They’re the ones that have forced you to the Internet searching relentlessly for a fly trap that works.

Bottle flies are the ones that create the wiggling, writhing maggots that spill out of your garbage can when you innocently pull off the lid.

Regular old kitchen flies are annoying but they aren’t deadly.

So like any good researcher I scoured Google and Pinterest.  Both have a tendency to lie so I knew I’d have to test out a few methods myself.  The one method for catching flies that’s alllll over Pinterest is the 2 litre pop bottle that’s had the top cut off, and turned upside down into itself.  The bottle is then filled with some sort of fly bait.

The other method I found was using a paper cone in a mason jar.  Again, some sort of fly bait had to be used.

And of course, there are also plain old fly strips.  Not exactly DIY but they’ve been used forever so I figured they kind of had to be tried and true.

Let the home fly trap experimenting commence.

Soda Pop Bottle Fly Trap

This is the basic DIY fly trap you see all over Pinterest.  

Homemade fly trap hanging on red exterior brick wall showing no flies in it because the wrong bait is used.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut the top off of the plastic pop or water bottle.
  2. Flip the top upside down (it’ll look like a funnel) and stick it back into the bottle.
  3. Pour a couple of inches of water into the bottom of the trap and then bait it.

In this experiment I used I used store bought fly bait.  The container is a 2 litre pop bottle.  The flies can get into the bottle, but can’t figure out how to get out.  Then they drown.

This trap caught NO flies.  Not a single one. But it isn’t the design of the trap that was flawed, it was the bait. Store bought fly bait attracted no flies at all. 

Fly bait is the most important part of your fly traps.


Glass Bottle and Paper Cone Trap

If you don’t have plastic bottles around you can create a similar trap using a mason jar and a cone of paper.

Homemade fly trap hanging on red brick wall filled with flies because the right bait was used.

As you can see this fly trap and bait did significantly better than the first one. Both traps work well, but the bait is what made the big difference here.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Roll a piece of paper or cardstock into a cone and tape it together.
  2. Put the cone into a mason jar of any size, making sure there’s room at the bottom of the jar for at least 2″ of water. You may need to adjust the shape of your cone.
  3. Add water and a single raw shrimp to the jar.
  4. Wait.  Within a couple of days your jar will be FULL of flies.

Yep. A raw shrimp allowed to rot in the sun for days until it has the putrid smell of liquid internal organs.  That was the key to a successful fly trap.

 

Close up shot of hundreds of flies caught in a homemade fly trap made with a mason jar and paper cone.


Fly Strips

The fly strip cost a couple of dollars and dangled sadly from my window frame enticing no flies at all, just hanging there like a limp tongue.

I wanted to make sure I gave all the fly traps a good shot so I kept them all out for a week.  This is how things had progressed after 4 days.

Fly Trap Results

Supergross photos follow.

The plastic bottle trap with store bought fly bait caught NO flies after 4 days.

Homemade fly trap hanging on brick wall with no flies in it after using $10 store bought "fly bait".

 

The fly strips that you can find in any store caught 7 flies after 4 days.

Standard fly strip hanging on brick wall with a few flies stuck to it.

 

The mason jar trap with raw shrimp caught hundreds of flies after 4 days.  But that was nothing compared to what was to come.

Homemade fly trap filled with hundreds of flies, showing how well a piece of shrimp works as fly bait.

 

After 4 days it was pretty clear that the rotting shrimp was the only way to go in terms of bait.

Testing Different Baits

I experimented with different baits including:

  • Fermented chicken feed
  • Raw sweet corn 
  • Fresh chicken poop*
  • Raw shrimp*

* If you use meat, seafood or poop understand that this gives the flies a place to lay their eggs. That means if you use any of these things that after several days you will ALSO have maggots appear in your fly trap. Consider this when choosing your bait.

The rotting shrimp was the winner by a shrimpboat load.

The only issue with the enticing smell of rotting shrimp was the vile smell of rotting shrimp.  If you place your container up high enough (above nose level) you miss most of the stench but given any kind of downward breeze you suddenly feel like you’re walking through a rotting whale carcass.

By day 7 I was pretty sure I would have to try something else because I couldn’t stand the stench of the shrimp no matter how well it worked.  Then a funny thing happened.  By days 8 and 9 the trap was so filled with flies they actually suffocated the smell of the shrimp.  Yet somehow the stink was enough to continue to attract the flies.

By day 14 the mason jar trap was almost completely FULL of flies.

The huge success of a mason jar as a fly trap shown as it hangs on a red brick wall filled with flies.

Home Fly Trap on Day 14

Because there were so many flies I couldn’t smell the shrimp at all and the jar was almost full.

After 20 days it stunk again. Stunk like the guts of a hot monkey. But the stink could have been the mass grave of flies as well.

Mason jar fly trap hanging on exterior red brick wall, filled with flies after 14 days.

 

To save myself some grief and whatever happens to be in my stomach, when it comes time to remove the jar I just  tie a plastic bag around my head, put a lid on the jar and throw the whole thing in the garbage.

Just kidding. I don’t tie a bag on my head. I’m an excellent breath holder on account of my cat’s horrific gut issues when she – coincidentally – eats seafood.

The best practice for placement of fly traps is to actually put them AWAY from the area the flies are in to lure them away from  the deliciousness of the chicken shit.  The point is to draw the flies way from the coop, not keep them in it.

 

What is the best home remedy to get rid of flies?

The best way to get rid of flies around your house is to use TWO methods.

  • Parasitic wasps (really just tiny little flying things that are in no way as menacing as their name alludes to) will kill most flies before they even become flies. The wasps kill them in the larvae stage.

AND

How Do I Get Rid of Flies In My House?

Well, I’ll tell you … a bottled filled with stinking, rotting seafood probably isn’t the best way. But if you fill a bottle with some non stinking fly bait like the liquid recipe below, it won’t be quite as offensive. This recipe won’t work nearly as well as rotting flesh but it will work to catch some flies.

Fly Bait Recipe

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 2 Tbsps sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dish soap (the dish soap breaks the surface tension of the water and vinegar, making the flies unable to use it as a launching pad when they fall in it)

Use the same method for the DIY fly trap made out of a plastic bottle above, but use a smaller water bottle.

If you have a great fly bait recipe, leave it in the comments below. If you have a great maggot story maybe just keep that to yourself.  Just kidding. Obviously, I’d love to hear the maggot stories.
 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

The Best Homemade Fly Trap (DIY)

245 Comments

  1. Ev Wilcox says:

    We don’t have much of a problem with flies, but the #$%^&*mosquitos are awful! I too cannot enjoy the deck at night(and lately even the day) and close the doggie door to it as well at dusk. When Dorie Mae comes in the easy riders come in with her, so the deck is off limits to her as well! Hopefully bats are the answer to this onslaught, but that is for next year. Already told my carpenterish husband that I want bat houses for Christmas. Just have to find the plans.
    As far as the smell of your very efficient fly catcher-I would move it as far away from the girls, and you, as possible. Who knew rotting shrimp would be the best thing since sliced bread? Well done Karen!

  2. Janet says:

    I’m also waiting with ‘bated breath for your KILL ALL THE MOSQUITOES post. Or at least, the one about homemade solutions to keep them off of the people and the poor horse, who has worn a circle in the grass from pacing to get away from the skeeters.

  3. christine hilton says:

    Your next mission is to build a dollarama craft to hide that ugliness.While i have your attention,I made the rhubarb cake last night.I hate Mindy.

  4. Tigermom says:

    You are right. Pinterest lies.

  5. Katie says:

    Hmmm…you could put the lid on and save it for a Halloween decoration!

  6. jainegayer says:

    Stupid flies!

  7. Ackkkk Karen!

    Oh.Boy. You once again proved that you are the bravest woman on earth with a stomach of steel. hahaha! Can you come and live with me? :)

    I may have an easier solution for you.

    This is what happens when you live in the country (PS everyone, I live about 2 hours North of Karen in the Canadian countryside …. where flies rule the world…eeeek)

    I couldn’t take another fly. Not another. I bought a fly trap at the local co-op store that my local farmer friends swear by. The farmers coop sells a trap that is basically a BAG that you hang from a tree. Apparently the bag/trap works for about 200 ft. I technically dunno how far, as I haven’t tested distances. Ewe.

    The bag has a disgusting mixture of something that definitely smells like a rotting shrimp. You add water to the mix and hang it. The bag has only a wee small opening and the rest of it is all sealed up. Basically, it is the paid for version of what you made, now that I am typing this out loud. haha.

    It may be a nice alternative to hang easily for you and tuck it away out of sight from the coop. I think it catches 2000 flies. OMG. It works. WORD. One bag. Legit. Works for months.

    Not gunna lie.. I have walked by them and occasionally wondered if there was a dead body in my backyard but there’s not a fly in sight :) I have only noticed a smell every now and again. Not so bad when it catches a gazillion flies. Hmmmm, right?

    Love from the fellow Canuck,
    Lynne xx
    Design The Life You Want To Live

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Yes, they stink. The ones that work just plain old stink. Especially for bottle flies which are the dangerous ones.They like a good stink. House flies are easier to catch without a stink. If the bag works at 200 feet I could always hang it from a neighbours tree when they aren’t looking. ~ karen!

      • Carswell says:

        I’m just chuckling to myself picturing your neighbours scouring their yards for evidence of a dead critter – while the problem is really dangling over their head unbeknownst to them. LOL

      • Carole Crate says:

        What about the poor Turkey Vultures who hunt by sight and scent. Poor things__they might mistakenly take the scent for a dead critter and waste a lot of their valuable hunting time!

    • Raquel says:

      Is it easy to dispose?

      Raquel

  8. Kunyi mangalam says:

    How about fruit flies? We have ainfestation starting about now every year. We have several gross looking jars filled with old decomposing bits of fruit and old wine…. There are several recipes we try. Any ideas?

    • Kim says:

      Hi Kunyi,
      My daughter had a terrible problem last year with fruit flys so I tried a trap I found on the net…same as Karen’s bottle with rolled up paper cone but with red wine vinegar in it…the bottle was full in no time! These type of traps do work but you have to have the right bait…thank God for our scientist Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kunyi ~ I just put vinegar in a shallow bowl, put plastic wrap tightly across the top and punch holes into the wrap with a tooth pick. Fruit flies LOVE vinegar. They get in, but can’t get out. ~ karen!

    • IRS says:

      Fruit flies? Oh that’s easy. Just pour yourself a nice glass of wine. It can be white or red, but the more expensive the better. Then leave it out on the counter for a few minutes while you go answer the phone, or use the bathroom. When you come back, there are sure to be fruit flies floating in your wine. Works for me every time.

      • Rosa says:

        U are so right. No need for anything else. I counted them and there were 17 in about 30 minutes. Just started falling in my red wine glass. WORKS EVERY time!!!!!

      • Jim says:

        Plus, you get a little extra protein in your wine

    • Jen in Maine says:

      Don’t waste your wine. 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. cider vinegar in a small jar with a t. sugar and a drop of dish soap. Also poor a small amount of bleach down your drains. Keep bathroom trash cans emptied.

  9. Rondina says:

    Well, I’m glad the language got cleaned up a bit, but really—that 14-day old jar of dead flies kind of equaled out the maggot photos which we were very happy that you were too busy to take.

    Now, I have another problem for you. What say you about mosquitoes? After over a month of flooding rains, with parks still under water, and marinas closed because they have become one with the lakes—we have the biggest mosquito problem I have ever seen here. That’s roughly 60 years of seeing. They don’t bother me, because I rarely get a mosquito bite even though they are all around me and sitting on me. However, others cannot go outside. Any suggestions from anyone are welcome. Hopefully, they will not involve maggots.

    • IRS says:

      Hear, hear! I second Rondina’s request. We built a beautiful deck, and put great lighting in the yard, but we can’t sit out on it in the evening, because the little bastards descend at dusk like clockwork.These things are so big they have beaks, and they think I’m extra tasty. (I hope I don’t smell like rotting shrimp.) I hate having to douse myself in chemicals, and all the New Age-y repellants don’t work. Consumer Reports tested a bunch of different methods, such as citronella candles, wristbands, etc, and they were all found to be useless. So now that you have dealt with flies, Karen, please get to work on protecting us from mosquitoes. This is particularly important because, while most of us don’t have chickens to protect, I think we all enjoy summer evenings spent outdoors. If your putrid shrimp cocktail attracted mosquitoes, I would even be willing to share my deck with a mason jar full of the stuff.

    • Debbie says:

      I am in league with IRS – mosquitoes think I am the cat’s pajamas and it is painful. We have found a solution that helps with the back porch area. It is called Mosquito Magnet. The more open the property, the better it works. Online reviews are very, very mixed. We did have to exchange it once in the beginning, and contact the company a couple of times, but with persistence it definitely helps with mosquitoes. It runs on propane that has to be replaced periodically and it is important to follow directions as to when to begin using it for the season. It is also pricey. That said, the fact that I can step outside on humid days and in the evening is worth the extra effort.

      • Debbie says:

        I also use essential oil if I am not going to be in Mosquito Magnet range. I use plain citronella oil and/or a mixture called Nature (Spark Naturals), though I’m sure other Essential Oil companies have their own versions. I use this when I am pulling wild grapevines, Virginia Creeper and poison ivy (fun, fun). I have to reapply if I get too sweaty.

      • Jody says:

        I got one of those ThermaCell things and it really works – it’s sort of weird but also very nice. Check utube for the hack on refilling the butane cartridge.

    • Susan says:

      Electric fans are great in sitting areas, like decks. Mosquitos are poor flyers.

    • Heidi says:

      Listerine use the plain blue kind not only will you smell minty but mosquitoes hate it you can spray your yard with it or put it on yourself

  10. Kathleen says:

    I am sooooooo glad I hadn’t eaten breakfast before reading this.
    (I made the mistake of scrolling up again and I think I threw up a little in my mouth)
    Eeeeuuuuwwwwwwww!
    I think I would rather employ a Eunuch to wave the flies away all day, if there are still any about! Or George Clooney. Anything else rather than having to smell rotting shrimp or dispose of that mason jar! :)

    • Fannie Mae says:

      Ohmygosh, Kathleen!
      I now have coffee spewed,Ike EVERYWHERE!
      *runs for a ton ofpaper towels*

      I just HAD to read it again!
      Too funny!

  11. rotting shrimp? 3 weeks (almost) with the smell of rotting shrimp? I can’t even…

  12. CSB says:

    I Just got a new trap because the other two were filled, but you might try spoiled egg or meat scraps in your trap, smells awful tho, but flies love it.
    Also you could put out fly predators. They work behind the scene to kill the larva in the pupa stage. They are tiny wasps that don’t harm anything but the flies. Just don’t put them where the chickens will eat them before they hatch! Near your coop where you put the poop to compost is good. They are not a quick kill, but after a few weeks you will not have any flies but the odd ball ones that don’t raise in waste. And they are Safe and reproduce themselves, even tho the company would like to sell you a shipment every 3 weeks all summer. You just need to be patient, they will work. I Always used them around the horse lot or cattle pens. If you get them early they keep the flies controled!

  13. Cynthia Jones says:

    There’s 40,000 flies in that jar. Is too. Don’t argue.

  14. Catherine says:

    I follow lots of blogs but I laugh at your one the most. I don’t have chickens but have enjoyed all the chicken bum pictures and will remember the fly trap that works. So pleased cuddles is doing well. Well done your a great Chicken Mum !

  15. Agnes says:

    Holy shit Karen. That is hands down the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in a mason jar. And this also why you are my favourite blogger.

  16. ronda says:

    what about using the pop bottle whole, with the shrimp (or what ever heinous item you choose) inside … once the flies drown, and the bottle fills up, can you just put the top on the bottle again? … and so, saving a precious Mason jar. or would the flies find their way out of the bottle before drowning.

    • Karen says:

      Hi ronda! The reason you cut the top off the pop bottle is because the cone shape is more inviting for the flies to walk down into the bottle. It also puts the mouth closer to the stink and makes it more confusing for them to get out. :/ ~ karen!

  17. Lynne Streick says:

    It’s such a catch 22. In the process of keeping the flies away, more flies are attracted!

    • nansi says:

      for every one you kill, 1000 will not ‘arrive’

      • Penny says:

        And…about 10000 eggs not laid, that will turn into maggots in everything. I’m so grossed out to see a fly anywhere near a children’s food or toys! Knowing it probably just came from a monster pile of Doo-Doo and now is vomiting on baby’s teething ring?? Gaaaahhhhh…..

  18. Suel says:

    I really love your posts and I’m looking forward to using/following your directions and information. Especially now that I’m moving into the country. I’m considering converting an upscale gardening shed into a henhouse, we’ll see.
    But most of the time, I just enjoy your gift of humor and imagination. “…Stunk like the guts of a hot monkey”, makes me laugh and laugh.

  19. Lynn says:

    I learned long ago to put traps away from areas you do not want such unwanted guests. The problem I am having is wasps under deck an no way to get to nest as deck is to low any ideas how to keep them from building there would be a great help .

    • ronda says:

      you can buy those fake wasps nests, but they’re better put up before wasp season. Wasps think another colony is already in residence, so don’t start building. But, I don’t have a solution that would help you now except for wasp spray. sorry.

    • Heather says:

      We have had success with those fake wasp nests. The wasps like to build a nest on the underside of our deck rail.

    • Karen says:

      Sadly I have no idea Lynn. Wasps are bad because they’re more aggressive than bees but on the positive side wasps are great predatory insects. So if you have garden plants,they’ll get rid of a lot of pests. ~ karen!

    • sweetpea says:

      dr. bronner’s peppermint soap. you could use a garden sprayer on a water hose if need be. wash the deck and also spray underneath.
      I have found wasp and mud dobber nests on the house, went out very early morning and waited until the buggers left the nest, sprayed the nest, then watched as they came back, smelled the nest and never returned. I wouldn’t believe it had I not seen it with my own eyes.
      you may need to repeat to keep the peppermint soap applied.
      on the other side of this, it also deters other pests.
      I didn’t use a garden sprayer, I simply used a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture.
      dr. bronner’s peppermint soap can be bought at Targert, on Amazon, etc.
      good luck!

      • Jody says:

        We have many wasp habitats around our house (decking, eaves, furniture…). Thank you for the peppermint soap idea. Can’t wait to try it.

    • Linda says:

      I have the exact same problem with my deck…I sprinkle diatomaceous earth on my deck, over where the wasps/hornets seem to be coming from and then use a broom and sweep it down in there…kills them and ticks and fleas and ants…anything with an exoskeleton living in the leaves under the deck. I have done this for years and it works like a charm!

    • Mark says:

      Spray some WD 40 where you do not want the wasps to build.

    • Holly says:

      Mix Dawn dish soap and water, 50/50 in an empty Dawn dish soap container. Find the wasp nest and pour the solution over the nest. The wasps will suffocate and fall through the nest. They can not breathe the Dawn dish soap. Sounds crazy but it works like a charm!

    • debbie says:

      i have heard from several people paint it as close to the sky color you can get …they think it is sky and will move on

    • Peggy says:

      If you take a brown lunch bag and fill it up with plastic bags, then close the bag with a string and tie it on a corner of the porch…high up..wasps will think there is already a nest there and not proceed to build a nest there! Did it last year and no problem!!

  20. Linda says:

    ….”the guts of a hot monkey”. Hahahahahaha!!! :)

    • Penny says:

      Wonder…what are the guts of a cold monkey like? I can see a surrealist conversation coming out of this…

  21. Carla says:

    I think that you might actually be attracting flies with that smelly shrimp situation. Would you normally have that many flies?

  22. Laurinda says:

    I really appreciate your sacrifice- I have parrots & a new puppy who still has accidents, so flies get in. Not that I want my house to stink like rotting shrimp, but I’d be happy to lure those few back outside!

  23. Nancy C says:

    Well done!! I quickly pinned it to my Pinterest board, “Chicken Coops and Bees”

  24. Andrea says:

    I’m kinda surprised you didn’t wrap the mason jar in brown paper to avoid the sight that accompanied the stink! ( of course, you might have and have the “How to make your fly trap blend with your decor” post is coming soon….)

  25. Becky says:

    I think that second round of stench is the smell of rotting flies…. but please, for the love of everything Holy, next time use an old pickle jar–it hurts me to know you are going to throw out that Mason Jar.

    I made my funnel out of window screen.. that way it can be out in the rain without the danger of the funnel getting soggy.

    • Brenda says:

      I, too, had a moment of silence for the Mason jar. :)

      And…..window screen funnel = brilliance!!

    • jen white says:

      I’m totally saving this post to show my girlfriend who thinks I have a mason jar hoarding problem. She doesn’t complain when she’s eating the pickles, that’s all i’m saying.

    • Debbie says:

      Don’t the fruit flies sneak through the holes in the screen?

    • Adele Jones says:

      I did see what could be a useful idea on Pinterest, the section on glass cutting. I think I’m going to try cutting and using a small bottle neck upside down.

    • Gillian Cook says:

      I also save plastic mayo jars for stuff like this, no bad juju throwing them away, but I do agree that the plastic soda bottle has to be the best one…I am going to make some, I have some small plastic bottles, from Gatorade, that way I can hang several…anyway you do it, it will work…its a very good idea

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