Instructables
Picture of Deer Fly Traps
Make inexpensive and effective traps that will attract and kill biting deer flies. Deer flies cannot be eliminated with sprays and are not attracted to most lures. My traps can catch those that want to bite me, however, which is the best that can be expected. My traps are based on information that can be obtained by performing in Internet search on "deer flies," especially at sites of University of Florida and Florida Department of Agriculture, and others, from commercially-available traps, and from my own trial and error and field testing.
University field tests suggest that bright blue is the best color for lures, so I look for inexpensive disposable blue plastic items, then slather them with Tanglefoot or its generic equivalent.
To see my related Instructables, click on "unclesam" just below the title above or in the INFO box to the right. On the new page that appears, repeatedly click "NEXT" to see all of them.
Unclesam
 
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Step 1: Personal protection

I wear one of these whenever I work outside, and they attract and hold whatever deer flies come to bite me. The high fashion added is just a bonus. Deer flies are attracted to any large, dark, warm, moving object (bonus, carbon dioxide exhalations), and the best lure I have available is myself. When I patrol the perimeter of my lot each morning and pick up trash along our nearby highway, I wear the salad bowl ($1). It is drilled in two places and attached by two plastic zip ties to a plastic hard hat that has had its crown cut out. The remains of the hard hat and its webbing hold the bowl onto my head.
When I operate motorized yard equipment, I wear the protective muffs that have a blue Solo cup attached to its frame with wire bag ties through two holes above the cup's rim.
Are they effective? All those dark dots are flies collected in just two weeks' use.
I discard the bowls and cups at the end of the fly season.
bambae6 months ago



PT bottles made of fish head and saw one - one overnight killed more than 300 handeut want ~ kk
!!!!!!!! More photos below!!!!!!! Discard the water in the morning is not dead until the evening buttoned replace it with a new one thousand five hundred handeut death ... Count the number Crayons see?




jschmukendorf11 months ago
Tree Tanglefoot
What do you put on it
Thank you so much for the information! Deer flies have been driving me crazy on trail runs. I adapted the info given to create a running hat / flytrap. It works like a champ!

Materials:
1) Baseball style hat
2) Blue plastic picnic plates (Ace Hardware - $1.00/dozen)
3) Tree Tanglefoot (local garden center - $11.00)
4) Velcro (hook and loop mating pieces - about $3.00)


Steps:
a) Sew some Velcro loop pieces to the hat
b) Trim the blue plates to desired size
c) Stick Velcro hook pieces to back of trimmed blue plate
d) When ready to use, paint Tanglefoot on front of plate, stick plate to hat using Velcro
e) When done running, peel off fly covered plate and discard.
DSCN1320.JPG
josefski1 year ago
Holy Crap! This Instructable and comment thread makes me really, really glad I live in the Pacific Northwest. We have the occasional big, slow, clumsy biting flies up in the mountains but other than that it's just mosquitos, and you have to go to the mountains to find those too. Seems like a fair tradeoff for all the rain if you ask me!
I put blue painters tape to back half of whatever old baseball cap, leaving the lower rim free of tape for adjusting. I usually extend one to three, reinforced blue tape loops off of that base, too. I use tanglefoot in the plastic tub (used to use it from the small can that came with paintbrush applicator). I use a smaller paintbrush to apply it. It's amazing to go in after working outside to see all the deer flies stuck.

I can "paint" right over the caught ones and continue to catch more or just peel the tape and throw it out and start anew if it begins to smell rank or the season ends.

I'd venture that blue painters tape WITH a tanglefoot type product could be used in other applications.
dancour1 year ago
I tried your idea of using a blue plastic dish as opposed to the Vector Fly Strip that I had been using. The picture speaks for itself. From now on its blue & Tanglewood. Thanks!!!
DEER FLY HATS.jpg
trkibut1 year ago
I gathered 5 deer flies in1/2 hour canoeing around the pond wearing this hastily assembled but festive attire. Though my shirt matched the blue color (I like to live on the edge) and I heard the buzzes, I never got a bite. THANKS, UNCLESAM!!
IMG_0948.JPG
i've been fighting deer flies for many years and used the deer fly patches. I was pleased with the results but the price kept climbing and they didn't last long. So I looked for an alternative.

I am now using the Victor Fly Catcher with 4 rolls for $1.79 that will last me a summer. I cut about 1/3 of a roll and flatten it on a piece of silver tape that is stuck to the back of may (bright blue) hat. Its messy but my fingers are easily cleaned with DW-40. Each patch will hold at least 30 flies which may take 2 days of activity in the woods where I live. On bad days I put 2 patches and can catch almost 60 flies.

displaced person
I'm on here b/c I have a huge problem with deer flies in my backyard. I'm afraid to go back there. I was thinking about spraying some black balloons with spray adhesive and then hang them from a few low-lying trees. How effective do you think that would be?

We need to do something fast, we're sick and tired of hosing ourselves down with Off every time we go outside. I have five little ones and it just seems so toxic.

Thanks for your reply
unclesam (author)  cheezwhiz771 year ago
cheezwhiz77, sticky black balloons should attract and kill biting flies, but they may not last for many days outdoors. You would need to hang the balloons in such a way that they cannot be blown into one another or anything else. Support from a tree limb string that continues down to an anchor or weight on the ground. Or support with a string that goes between two low limbs. I am not sure if the balloon would be damaged by chemicals in the adhesive. Most adhesives will not remain sticky when placed out in the weather the way Tanglefoot brand, and similar generic products, will. I looked into using large, tough plastic beachballs as sticky lures, such as are sold at WalMart during summer, but I did not see any black ones. I could not figure out an easy way to grip the large balls, and at the end of the season I would end up with a sticky ball covered with flies, to either try to clean or to throw away. A black balloon trap might last longer outdoors if you did not fill the balloon with air, but could find something like styrofoam beads to fill it. A small hole in the balloon would then not cause it to collapse. I found the spray-on Tanglefoot brand adhesive to not be as effective as the smear-on version. It may be possible to use the smear-on on balloons that were filled with styrofoam beads. It would take a little time to make the hanging traps described in the Instructable, that use a black plastic bag as the lure, but they can be taken apart for off-season storage and reused year after year, except that I discard the sticky blue plastic bowls, which sell two for U.S. $1. Give each little one a small sticky blue bowl with an elastic chin strap as a hat, put them in long pants and long sleeves, and they can run around and collect the flies themselves. What could possibly go wrong?
Unclesam
gardens4me1 year ago
I have a question. I bought the blue plastic plates, 3 holes equidistant on perimeter of plate and strung thru with fishing line to be able to hang it up outside. Bought the tub of tanglefoot and a plastic putty knife and spread the tanglefoot on the plate. Unravelled a hanging fly trap and cut a piece to put in the center as a lure. But please explain the black plastic bag? How big? Like a garbage bag? And attach to the bottom so it swings in the breeze, in the sun? or a smaller bag. I can't even sit outside, let alone do any mowing. Live in the farm countryside outside of Philadelphia, PA.

Thanks.
unclesam (author)  gardens4me1 year ago
gardens4me, you will find the answers to your questions by reading the complete text for all the Instructable's steps and looking at all the accompanying photos. The specific info you seek is scattered throughout, so I'll summarize. I caught flies for several years using the plates, but I catch even more flies using an upturned small plastic blue bowl, as appears in one of the photos. You do not need the commercial hanging fly trap piece as a lure, because its chemical lure is most likely intended for house flies and not outdoor biting flies. Biting flies go for any warm, moving object, which they take for a warm-blooded animal. The males do not bite, but the females must have a blood meal in order to lay their eggs. Every fly you trap will therefore prevent the birth of many more. The black plastic bag, warmed by the sun and fluttered by the wind, acts as the lure for the hanging trap. You serve as the lure for the personal protection trap. The flies tend to move upward, end up at the "head" of the trap. One of my steps details construction of the bag lure. I use a hardware store wire "tomato" frame and a common 33-gallon cynch-tie garden trash bag. I modify the tomato frame as shown in the Instructable photo. I reinforce a spot at the middle of the closed end of the bag, where the hanging string comes through, with duck tape. I partially close the bag at the bottom of the tomato frame by pulling on the plastic cynches, then tie each cynch to its side of the bottom of the frame. This lets air in to puff the bag, without letting the bag get thrashed or blown up onto the sticky part of the trap. I disassemble the traps for storage each year, can use a bag for several years, throw away the sticky part. The hanging traps will help reduce the fly population, over time, and the personal trap will make it possible to work outside. I wear long pants and shirt, plus gloves when mowing, and shoo whatever flies land on me to encourage them to move up to the sticky trap attached to my hearing protectors. When I am not using machinery, I wear a sticky hat made from a plastic salad bowl attached to the framework from an old hard hat, or one of the small blue bowls held onto my head with an elastic chin strap (leave a nonsticky rim on any hat trap, so you can handle it to put in on and take it off). When the flies are really rank, I also wear a fine net hunter/fisherman shirt that has a net hood, let the flies harmlessly play all over me until they find the sticky cap on my head. The blue bowl cap is one of those pictured as the "head" of one of my hanging traps, can be bought from "Dollar Store." I bought the net shirt from Plow and Hearth, mesh fine enough the exclude "no see-ums." Unlike common net shirts, it has a second interior layer that spaces the net off the skin, so flies that land on the net cannot bite you through the net. The inner layer is large soft string on about an inch square weave. You can wear this shirt over just a tee shirt or bare skin, to keep cool, and no bug can get to you. If you move about your countryside on farm machinery or pickup truck, you may want to include traps that attach to those machines, similar to my pickup truck trap. The flies really go after a moving vehicle. Used every year, these traps will not completely eliminate the biting flies in your area, but they will make outdoor life a lot more bearable. Sounds like your location would be a prime one for attracting and maintaining a colony of purple martin birds, which catch flying insects and have been known to eliminate fly problems. It is not a simple task, but most libraries have books about attracting these useful birds.
Best of luck, the warm winter in my mid-Atlantic coastal location has made the flies come early and plentiful this year, and all my traps are catching a bunch of them, Unclesam
Thanks...all my 'experiments' failed yesterday. The blue plate swinging in the wind with the Tanglefoot on it, and the plates that I just smeared with the stuff and stuck on a piece of the fly paper.

So to summarize what you have said, it is true that these deer flies (at least here in Chester County PA are NOT attracted by that fly paper. I agree, that it's the smell of humans, animals, LIVE MEAT (LOL!) that attracts them the best. I'm going to the Dollar Store and am gonna buy a blue bowl, drill some holes, attach some elastic and just wear it as a bonnet and see how that does. Because it's about the attractant (meaning YOU), the color and the sticky stuff that will do them in.

I'll play with the black plastic bag idea this weekend.

Thanks for you help.
Bugged1 year ago
Is the paint on tanglefoot best? I'm using the paste which is tan; doesn't seem to work. Tried fly paper on blue bowl trap and am having success. However, the flypaper is a mess to manipulate. Wondering if it's worth it to change from the paste to paint on. Would appreciate your help. The deer flies are literally swarming! Thanks!
unclesam (author)  Bugged1 year ago
Bugged, by "paint on tanglefoot," I am asuming you mean the kind that comes in a spray can. I found that less effective that the thicker paste. I used the Tangelfoot brand paste, sold in a tub, for several years, and it was very effective. I switched to the Tanglefoot squeeze tube (sold as bird repellent at TruValue in their pest control section) when the tub was no longer available in my area, and that worked just as well. For two years I have used JT Eaton's Bird Repellent which is clear and available in a caulking-gun tube, because it is less messy to apply, and it also has been effective. The fly paper may be effective because it contains a chemical lure, which tanglefoot does not. Is your blue bowl trap a hanging trap or one that you wear on your person? A personal trap depends on the wearer to be the lure. A hanging trap depends on the warm, waving black plastic bag as the lure. The flies arrived early this year, probably because of a warm winter, and my personal and hanging traps are both catching lots of flies. If you are using hanging traps, you may need to try different locations. They depend on sunlight warming the plastic bag, and the flies may just prefer certain locations. You may have stumbled upon an improvement to the trap design. A blue bowl slathered in Tanglefoot might be even more effective by adding just a tab of the flypaper to improve the lure. It would be useful to know if your flypaper is actually catching biting flies, such as deer flies, or if it is catching ordinary houseflies, the target of the flypaper's chemical lure.
Unclesam
Thanks for your response Unc Sam. I'm using the blk bag hanging trap. Catching lots of deer flies with the Blk Flag clear stick-on strips, but it doesn't stay attached well, and like I said, it's a mess to work with. Also, I smeared tanglefoot paste on blue bowl for self using while working outside. It's almost like the flies are repelled by the tan goo;have never had one land. I was thinking the can of paint-on, not spray might be clear versus the thick tan paste in tub. Maybe I'm putting the paste on too thick as it is very noticeable on the bowl. I saw the cans of paint on, on Amazon and thought, if it's clear, I might have better luck. My thought on the flypaper is that it's clear and the blue bowl is more visible. Will appreciate your expertise, thank you!
unclesam (author)  Bugged1 year ago
Bugged, the blue color is a preference, but not a necessity, especially for traps where you serve as the lure. The flies usually land on my clothing, find they cannot bite me there, then work their way up to the head, especially if it is sweaty. Effective personal traps have been made by smearing thick machinery grease, which has color, onto yellow hard hats. People have smeared tanglefoot onto pickup truck bumpers and caught lots of flies. There is also a commercial hanging trap that is a sheet of very sticky black plastic that is formed into a cylinder and hung from a string. I have used those, and they work, though they are costly, which is why I now make my own. I do not think the tan color of the tanglefoot is the problem. Make sure you do not have any residual insect repellent on yourself, hair, clothing or gloves. Based on your experiences so far, an obvious experiment presents itself. Switch the personal trap bowl gobbed with tanglefoot with the hanging trap bowl now using the stick-on strips. See if the tanglefoot works on the hanging trap and the Blk flag strips work on your personal trap. I have not used the brush-on version of tanglefoot, but the squeeze-tube had the same color as that sold in the tub, and I smeared both onto blue bowls fairly thickly, and both caught many deer flies.
Unclesam
Uncle Sam...Wow, lots of good information. Can't wait to try the experiment! Perhaps my deer flies are Seminoles and are repelled by the Gator blue. Thank you so much for your help!
ladybard1 year ago
Unclesam, I'm not sure if this page is still active but I have a question if it is. I live in Western NY and we have a pretty wet backyard due to an underground spring that runs underneath and through tiles. There are these very nasty flying bugs that I'd always thought were young "black flies" in the past because of their bites. I was told last year that they were instead deer flies, which are much smaller than black flies, but the bugs that I'm seeing are not nearly as big as the ones you show on your traps. The bugs I'm seeing are the size of gnats, but their bite is horrible and the description of the deer fly bites seems to match it. They get into the hairline, neck and back and bite as well as fly into my eyes (underneath glasses). Are these still deer flies? As one person has said, they make you forget about mosquitoes because they are constantly attacking me and the dogs. I'd like to try this trap (although I'm not sure I have the nerve to walk around my backyard with the hat on - we live pretty close to our neighbors). However, if what I'm describing isn't a deer fly, I'm not sure it will work.

We do have a stand of pines along the back and side fences and as I said a very damp backyard (clay soil). We also have a partly open area to the underground spring to allow my husband to cut out the roots every now and then that get into the tiles. It's mostly covered over with a cast iron plate, but there is a thin opening along two sides of the plate, so I'm sure that doesn't help keep the population down. I'm thinking that needs to be covered over completely to cut down on their breeding area?

Any feedback or suggestions are welcome :) And thanks for the page.
unclesam (author)  ladybard1 year ago
ladybard, whenever a comment is made on an Instructables page, the original author gets an e-mail alert, so the pages remain active. I believe these types of trap will work for any biting fly. You and other mamals provide the lure and the needed blood meal. The hat trap provides personal protection (I haven't been bitten in years, even though there are still flies in the neighborhood), but if you do not want to wear the funny hat, you could erect the larger hanging traps, to try to reduce the neighborhood population. By the way, you will have better luck if you could get your neighbors to join you in a program of reduction or eradication. Are the neighbors having the same fly problem? If not, that spring might be the cause at your house. A first step would be to identify the bug. Google and Wikipedia searches helped me. Also take dead samples to your local health department, see if they can help. You could collect some by attaching a short length of duct-tape, sticky side out, to a hat. Biting flies may spread diseases, such as bird flu, so the health department will usually be interested. Identification may lead to strategies for reduction or eradication, specific trap designs. If the flies live an early stage in water, then you should make sure the spring water does not stagnate. You might introduce frogs or fish in the stream during the fly season, even though these predators may not live through your winters. You might also try to attract purple martin birds, which eat flying insects. A colony established within your entire neighborhood could wipe out the fly problem, there are a number of books on this subject, often at the public library. If the stream is the only nearby breeding spot, and the stream is not a favorite landscaping feature, you might consider running the stream under the ground in a pipe.
best of luck, Unclesam
Thank you! I will try out the trap and see what sticks :) The spring is fairly quick moving and we do have frogs down in the hole that come up occasionally (I don't think there are fish though). I will look into attracting the birds and maybe more dragonflies (we do get some). The stream is already underground running through terracotta pipes (what they call tiles around here), but that hole that my husband keeps open probably doesn't help the situation.

One thing I've realized though since reading your article is that the big blue tarp that we have lying on the ground where our blow-up pool goes (also a nice bright blue color), is probably attracting them as well, so I've tried to stay away from it when I take the dogs out to play. I wonder if they sell tarps in a different color, LOL?

Thanks again for all your help and feedback. I appreciate it.
albinoraven2 years ago
For deer, black and horse fly, buy a $1 batball hat. Twist a piece of duct tap into a loop, stick it to the back of the baseball hat.

Biters get stuck to hat. Been doing this for 40 years.
dstone-12 years ago
why not just get a blue hardhat and apply the sticky directly to it? tangle foot is messy, but I think it can be removed with vegetable oil or (better), wd40, the hat washed clean of oil and ready for a new coat of sticky. I'll try it and get back to ya :)
That's what I use...one with a full brim. I wear a pair of nitrile gloves and slather the Tanglefoot all over the dome and half-way round the brim at the rear. I use paint thinner and a blue shop towel to remove the trapped deer flies and tanglefoot. If you're careful, you can re-use one of the gloves, the one not used to apply the tanglefoot, the next time. Sometimes the deer flies are so bad during June-July that I have to clean the hat off and re-apply twice a day. But this approach really does work...I swear by it!! Let me know if you have any questions.
unclesam (author)  dstone-12 years ago
dstone-1, your idea will undoubtedly work. However, it seems easier to me, even cheaper, to attach the bright blue $1 US salad bowl over the remains of a discarded bump hat, then throw the bowl away at the end of fly season. Tanglefoot is extremely sticky, so I avoid working with it, design ways to just throw the caught flies and the sticky part of the trap away. In fact, before I start to do that, I cover the sticky part with a couple layers of newspaper. Otherwise I inevitably get Tanglefoot on tools, clothes, skin, etc.
wwebb32 years ago
I live/cottage in Northern Ontario and the deer flies have been just the worst this year. I don't know what their breeding environment is, but this must have been the "perfect storm" for them. I did observe and pointed it out to my spouse, that the deer flies seemed to be attracted to multiple items that are bright blue, so after reading this site, I have a plan..I have blue plastic coffee cans and some blue detergent bottles, some I will get some of this tanglewood stuff and coat them, and hang them up like an ugly windchime. If it works, it'll be worth the sight of them swingin' in the trees, and deck. I will post ya'll later if it worked or nots..
Thanks for the info..
unclesam (author)  wwebb32 years ago
wwebb3, plan your work in order to avoid getting the Tanglefoot on your clothes, skin, tools, etc. Prepare and hang up the blue items uncoated first, then take them down and add the sticky. Make sure the wind will not bring them in contact with each other or anything else. You might want to add a weighted string to each to keep them from being flailed around too much by the wind. The wire cage and black plastic bag I use as a lure bring the flies to the blue sticky trap and keep the trap from getting blown around too much.
killit3 years ago
I'm so glad I found this site!! I have now been bite 3 times in two weeks by the nasty little thing. Twice yesterday. Do you just let the pain ,swelling, and achyness just run its coarse or is there something other than benydril. Because that is not working. thanks for any help! from killit
dstone-1 killit2 years ago
wash the bite and try witch hazel on it. trouble with this is, i usually don't know where i'm bit until it hurts later :(
unclesam (author)  killit3 years ago
killit, one home remedy is to soak a cotton ball in white vinegar, keep it pressed to the bite, should reduce pain and draw out the poison. Uncle Sam
zowi4202 years ago
The only thing good about the deer flies, they make you forget all about the mosquitoes!
what if you used a slow turning motor, a large disc and a dowel attached to the outer ring of the disc, and one of the blue buckets or a piece of cardboard painted blue with the tangle foot on it? Then just place it where the flies are the worst (they love pools) and let it run. I bet that would work... now where to find a motor for this project...
unclesam (author)  abuthemagician3 years ago
abu, I added photo to step 2 showing one month's catch on Solo cup I wear whenever I work outside, even if I will not be operating motorized equipment. I added photo to step 6 that shows small bowl used on my hanging trap, more effective than the original Solo cup. Unclesam
unclesam (author)  abuthemagician3 years ago
abu, good idea, a trap that moves, actually covers some distance, rather than just flutter as do my hanging traps, will be more effective. I have considered running traps along a line similar to a clothesline, by motor, along the sidelines of my yard. Also a solar-charged motorized cart that would randomly take short dashes across my yard. One attached photo shows that the best lure is a trained mammal. I wear the hearing protectors any time I work out in my yard, even when no using motorized equipment. The catch shows is the first four weeks of this Spring fly season, time to install a new sticky cup. The hanging trap in my instructable shows a blue Solo cup, but the small bowl shown in the other attached photo works better. U.S. P.S. The two photos referenced could not be attached using the Instructables system. I will try later to post them in a separate reply.
pdub774 years ago
The title makes me think of a venus fly trap that eats deer. =)
Charmainek4 years ago
Tanglefoot is great. Thanks for the tip. I covered the top, sides and back of an old baseball cap with duct tape strips then put a thin layer of tanglefoot on it. For my experimental hike I also took along an old racquetball racquet then stuck a trimmed sheet of magazine print to both sides and then a thin layer of tanglefoot on the top of the magazine print. 1 hour hike. The catch: Hat 3, racquet 17! When the buggers swarmed I slowly waved the racquet 3 or 4 times around my head. It was no contest. Thanks!
chuckr446 years ago
Michigan lumberjacks and fisherman from all over the US say that deer flies are attracted to yellow. So, the lumberjacks would spread chain oil on their yellow hardhats and the deer flies would get stuck to that. Fishermen would take yellow cardboard, pin it to the top of their hats, and coat the cardboard with Tanglefoot, oil, or some other sticky substance. I believe the tip for fisherman I found in the North American Fishing Club magazine.
unclesam (author)  chuckr446 years ago
Thank goodness the deer flies in my area have not read those articles! If there is a mammal (human) available as the lure, I believe the color of the sticky patch is not terribly important. Deer flies attracted to me will perch anyhwere on my clothing regardless of its color, will keep taking off and landing, working their way toward the head, until they encounter the sticky trap on top. If no mammal is available as a lure, then color selection might improve the catch. Many of my traps stand alone, so I pursued the issue of color. My recollection of the historical sequence is that deep woods workers found that smearing sticky oil on their hardhats would trap the flies (that were attracted to the workers themselves). The hardhats just happened to be yellow, because they were safety equipment. When other people found out, they attached sticky tabs to their hats, choosing yellow because it had worked for the lumberjacks and oil explorers. The sticky traps proved so successful when nothing else did, that University field tests were performed to try to find best color. Plastic flower pots, of different colors and made sticky, were mounted on short masts and driven around on an ATV through a field rank with deer flies. The catch was counted, and the winner was bright blue. My Internet search yielded no scientific reports from lumberjacks and fishermen, so I went with the University guys. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. See my Instructables recipe for "Deer Fly and Tanglefoot Pudding."
I cannot find your recipe. Can you send it to me?
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