The Best Homemade Flytrap.
And it probably isn’t the one you see all over Pinterest.



When last we met we were discussing the merits of “the f word” and maggots.  Today I’m refining my language a bit. We’ll be speaking about rotting flesh.

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 bottle flies.  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 crap.  They 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 1 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 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 experimenting commence.



This is the basic home made fly trap you see all over Pinterest.  The general design seems pretty good. In this container I used store bought fly bait.  The container is a 1 litre pop bottle that’s had the top cut off and inserted upside down.  The flies can get into the bottle, but can’t figure out how to get out.  Then they drown.

Fly bait is the most important part of your fly traps. If you can’t find something more attractive than either your steak or chicken poop then you’ll have no luck catching flies.

The store bought fly bait cost $10 for enough to fill only this one bottle. But it was store bought fly bait.  Bait made specifically for flies which they were charging money for. So I was pretty sure it was money well spent.

As you can see the container contains no flies.  I could have filled it with hair and I would have had better luck.



THIS is the home made trap #2.  A mason jar, a paper cone and the secret fly bait ingredient … a raw shrimp allowed to rot in the sun for days until it has the putrid smell of internal organs.  Or of course, the smell of raw shrimp allowed to rot in the sun.  Just add water until the jar is around 1/3rd full making sure the shrimp is covered with water.




Then there was the fly strip.  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.










After 4 days it was pretty clear that the rotting shrimp was the only way to go in terms of bait.  I experimented with different baits including fermented chicken feed, raw sweet corn and actual chicken poop.  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.





After 14 days 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.



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

Since putting these traps up I’ve learned (by following a link that reader Shauna recommended on fly predators) that these traps shouldn’t be IN the coop area, but rather far away from it to distract the flies from the deliciousness of the chicken shit.  The point is to draw the flies way from the coop, not keep them in it.

I’ve taken down the other two “traps”, the purchased fly bait which after 14 days caught a grand total of zero flies and the fly strip which caught a total of 9 flies in 14 days.  Tonight is garbage night so I’ll take a walk around the block picking through people’s recycling bins looking for 1 litre pop bottles. I’ll see if they do as well as the mason jars with paper cones once they have rotting flesh in them.  I have a hunk of stinky salmon skin in the fridge just waiting to act as fly bait.

And a chicken named Cuddles who is happy to put up with the stink.
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  1. 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.

  2. 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….)

  3. Nancy C says:

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

  4. 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!

  5. Carla says:

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

  6. Linda says:

    ….”the guts of a hot monkey”. Hahahahahaha!!! 🙂

  7. 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 .

  8. 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.

  9. Lynne Streick says:

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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 !

  14. Cynthia Jones says:

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

  15. 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!

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

  17. 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)
    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! 🙂

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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

  22. Edith says:

    Absolutely true!

  23. jainegayer says:

    Stupid flies!

  24. Katie says:

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

  25. Tigermom says:

    You are right. Pinterest lies.

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

  28. Kim says:

    LOL! Poor Mindy!!

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

  32. Maggie L says:

    I had a couple of friends put syrup in a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap then cut slit in it. You should’ve seen the flies they caught! The bowl was full, THOUSANDS! Gross. But try it, it must smell better than rotting sea creatures…

  33. Cathy says:

    Wasp catchers filled with beer will work just the same. They won’t catch the volume of your mason jar – so just put a few of them out.

  34. Victoria says:

    You made a version of what we used to get at the tack/feed stores in the ’80s. It was called a Big Stinky – and was well named. Big Stinky is a large jar with a lid that works like your funnel. You got to put a liquid (fly death?) and a piece of chicken in it. It got very gross and held about a gazillion flies. The smell could almost knock you down. The fly trap bags are a more modern version and do work very well.

  35. 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!

  36. Sue says:

    Mosquitos are weak flyers. Use an outdoor fan, and no problems.

  37. 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!

  38. Karen says:

    ha!!! ~ karen

  39. Karen says:

    Thanks Catherine! On all accounts 🙂 ~ karen!

  40. Melissa in NC says:

    Thanks for the lesson on catching flies…I have a very weak stomach and must excuse myself. Good Day.

  41. 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!

  42. 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!

  43. Karen says:

    I’ll let her know! ~ karen!

  44. Karen says:

    HI Cathy! This is just a guess, but I think that type of catcher with that bait would probably catch house flies not bottle flies. Again, I’m just guessing tho! ~karen

  45. Karen says:

    LOL!!! ~ karen

  46. Melanie says:

    Don’t know if I could handle a rotting prawn in our hot Aussie summers, but a tried and true alternative is using a teaspoon of Vegemite dissolved in 500ml of warm water in a soft drink bottle with inverted mouth then hung in a tree catches blowflies and fruit flies too and definitely not so stinky as the rotting prawn!!! Might also be a good use of Vegemite for anyone out there who bought it thinking it was some kind of chocolate spread 🙂

  47. Raquel says:

    I think I’ll skip breakfast now. You creack me up. Your blogs are so honest – I love it! I must admit – I’m impressed and going to give it a go. Do you have any ideas for mice? I have a compost bin in my yard and have found that the mice are getting in there and nothing but leaves, newspaper, fruit and veggies go in there. We also have bird feeders that are also feeding the mice! UGH!

    Thanks Karen!

  48. 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

  49. Raquel says:

    Is it easy to dispose?


  50. 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.

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