How Does a Fly Trap Work?

Written by josh baum
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How Does a Fly Trap Work?

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Many Types of Fly Traps

Flies have been pests to humans since ancient times, and methods for capturing them have varied and evolved greatly over the years. Today, the use of insecticides is the most common method of fly control in industrialised nations, but many nonchemical fly traps are also used. These traps vary as greatly today as they have throughout history, but three types of fly traps stand out as the most commonly used and easily obtained. Those three are described in detail in the sections below.

The Fly "Zapper"

Perhaps best known by its common name, the fly zapper, this type of trap eliminates flies and other insects by electrocution. It is plugged into a standard electrical socket and usually hangs from a hook or is mounted on a wall. The typical fly zapper consists of a metal screen, an ultraviolet light source and some type of protective shield that guards humans and pets from accidental electric shock but which still allows flies to reach the electrified grid. These traps work on the premise that flies and many other flying insects are powerfully attracted to ultraviolet light. When a fly spots the UV light emanating from the trap, it flies around the protective shield to get closer to the light. Once inside, the fly runs into the electrified metal grid, which is positioned between the opening and the light source. The electrical shock typically kills any insect instantly. The insects then drop down into a collection tray, which must be periodically removed, emptied and cleaned.

Fly Paper

Fly paper generally refers to a strip of paper or plastic that has been coated in an extremely sticky substance so that flies will stick to it permanently when they touch it. The coating on a piece of fly paper typically has three key ingredients: a durable adhesive that will remain sticky despite prolonged exposure to open air, a pheromone or other substance to attract flies and a poison, usually arsenic, to help kill the flies shortly after they become trapped on the paper. Fly paper is often sold in small canisters with the paper rolled up inside. To use it, one must grab the nonsticky end of the paper in the canister, pull the entire length of fly paper out and carefully affix the nonsticky end to the ceiling. The paper and empty canister will dangle as the strip collects flies, and when it is consumed, the fly-covered paper can be carefully lowered back into the original canister and disposed of.

Jar Traps

Jar traps are an interesting form of fly control, and perhaps the most economical option available. A jar trap is a jar or container that is either suspended from above or placed on a stand, but it cannot be covered on the bottom. This is because the middle of the bottom of the jar is an open hole surrounded by a shallow lip of glass or plastic. Users must pour a small amount of a fly-attracting substance such as syrup or sugar water into the doughnut-shape trough created by this lip. When a fly is attracted to the bait, it will find that the only way into the container is to fly into the opening from underneath. But once the fly is in the jar, it will not be able to figure its way back out. Because of this design, this trap can be very humane, provided that it is emptied outdoors on a regular basis. If flies are left trapped in the jar for too long, they will die and drop into the trough of bait.

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