How to make tanglefoot fly traps

Written by edriaan koening
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How to make tanglefoot fly traps
Catch flies with sticky Tanglefoot traps. (fly image by Ivonne Wierink from

Tanglefoot has an adhesive that traps foreign matter. Besides flies, it also catches gnats, aphids, weevils and other insects. It lets you reduce insect problems without using any harmful insecticide or pesticide. It comes in clear, odourless formulations that adhere to surfaces and stays sticky even after repeated contact with water. Choose from paste, brushable, aerosol, tropical and liquid formulations. Apply the Tanglefoot to a disposable surface that attracts the target flies.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Find the appropriate surface for the type of flies you want to trap. A piece of yellow cardboard that measures about 5 1/2 by 9 inches will catch various types of flies. A red sphere about the same size as apples will attract apple maggot flies. A green sphere about the same size will catch walnut husk flies. A bright blue six-inch plastic pot will trap deer flies.

  2. 2

    Apply a 1/16-inch layer of Tanglefoot over all the surfaces of the trap. Use a paintbrush to apply brushable Tanglefoot or use a spatula to smear paste Tanglefoot. Dip, brush or spray liquid Tanglefoot onto the surfaces or spray aerosol Tanglefoot. Use a putty knife or a disposable paddle to apply tropical Tanglefoot.

  3. 3

    Add an item that the target flies find attractive to lure them to the traps. For example, attach a small bottle of ammonium carbonate to each trap to attract walnut husk flies.

  4. 4

    Place the trap in a location where the flies gather or feed. Locate it away from children and pets to prevent accidental contact.

  5. 5

    Cover the sticky applicator tools with baby oil, waterless cleaner or white spirit. Rub the tools with a cloth to remove the adhesive material, adding the cleaning material whenever the cloth starts to stick to the tools.

  6. 6

    Inspect the Tanglefoot fly trap every week. Remove the insects that stick to it, apply more Tanglefoot and place the trap back. Take down the trap when the infestation ends. Wrap the trap in newspaper to prevent it from sticking to random items, and throw it into the dustbin.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply Tanglefoot when temperatures are above 15.6 degrees Celsius so it is easier to work with.
  • Use the paste formulation if you frequently have fly infestations. Compared to other formulations, paste Tanglefoot is the most economical.
  • Don't reuse empty Tanglefoot containers.
  • Liquid Tanglefoot will freeze in cold temperatures because it is water-based.

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