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Thursday, July 5, 2012

making and using the deer fly trap umbrella


In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps of making and using the deer fly trap umbrella.  In addition, there is a video I made in 2011 about my deer fly trap umbrella.  The video demonstrates how to assemble the trap and shows it in use.  Here is the link to that video:

Deer Fly Trap Umbrella Video


The trap is simply a black-and-white umbrella that is adorned with blue plastic cups.  The alternating black and white panels of the umbrella make the trap an irresistible visual stimulus for deer flies (which are strongly attracted to movement) while I walk around with the umbrella, rotating it as I go.



Each cup is attached to the umbrella with four twist ties evenly spaced around the perimeter of the cup's rim.



Here is a view of the current configuration of my umbrella with four cups attached.  These fixed cups stay securely attached to the umbrella and do not need to be removed or replaced.  The four loose cups that you see in the lower left-hand corner of the picture are used to support the sticky surfaces that trap the deer flies that are attracted to the umbrella.



This is the product I use to create the sticky surfaces that do the actual trapping of the deer flies.



Tangle-Trap is indeed very sticky, so I put on a pair of nitrile gloves before preceeding any further.



I cover each loose cup with a plastic sandwich bag.



The sandwich bags allow me to create a disposable sticky surface, so that the disposal of trapped flies is quick and easy and clean (you'll see that further down in this posting).



I tuck the extra length of each bag inside its cup.  This prevents the bags from blowing off the cups after the loose cups are placed onto the umbrella trap's fixed cups.



The bag-covered cups are then evenly and thoroughly coated with Tangle-Trap.



I coat the tops ...



... and the entire side surfaces of the cups.



Once the Tangle-Trap coating has been applied to the bags, each coated loose cup is placed over a fixed cup on the umbrella, with the excess bag length tucked inside the coated cup.



Each coated cup is gently pushed down until it is firmly seated atop the fixed cup.



Here is a picture of the umbrella trap all set to go with four coated bag-covered loose cups seated upon four fixed cups.



Once the umbrella trap is set up, all I have to do is walk around for a while and twirl the umbrella.




This is a picture of what I trapped after walking around for 15-20 minutes.



In order to get rid of the trapped deer flies and the used sticky bags, each loose cup is lifted from the trap (I use one hand to push down on the fixed cup in order to avoid undue stress on its attachment points) ...



... and the bag (with its attached flies) is removed from its cup and disposed of.  The loose cups are replaced on the trap for storage (there is no need to dispose of them) until the next time I use the trap.



Because I love data, I count the number of trapped deer flies before I dispose of the bags.  I actually do the counting while the bags are still on the cups, but here I have a bag placed over my gloved hand in order for you to easily see the trapped flies.  This picture shows over 40 flies were trapped on one side of this bag alone.



In order to neatly dispose of the sticky trapped deer flies, I simply turn each bag inside out ...



... and then fold it in on itself ...



... numerous times ...



... until I've created a neat little compact ball ...



... that can then be easily disposed of.



In my next post, which I intend to publish within the next few days, I will present the data I've collected so far during the 2012 deer fly season here in Livingston County, Michigan.

Got questions?  Got comments?  Got feedback?  Click the blue "# comments" link below and say something!

33 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to trying this at my house.

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  2. I wonder if you could mount the umbrella on some rotating platform (like an old record turntable) and have it continue to harvest deerflies while you're doing other chores...

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  3. That is indeed a great idea, Minnesotastan. What would be really cool is if someone could invent something like a Roomba that could handle outdoor terrain and could be trained to travel around one's property while twirling the umbrella. Then it could report back home every hour or so in order for the owner to check if the baggies need to be replaced. But since I am not mechanically adept, I rely on foot power.

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  4. My question is, How effective is this at keeping the deer flies away from you?

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  5. Well, Paul, as it turns out, trapping deer flies this way is amazingly effective at keeping the deer flies away from me. I'm actually quite surprised (and very pleased) at how awesomely well this works. After trapping deer flies, I then work outside (usually for 2-6 hours each day) and I am not bothered by, nor do I see, a single deer fly. Like I said, even I have been amazed by this success. I wouldn't believe it if I didn't experience it myself day after day after day. As mentioned, I will be publishing a post that shows our property and the area I cover when trapping deer flies. We are in the woods in the heart of deer fly country.

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  6. I wish I could use your brilliant idea to trap deer flies, but the type of deer fly that plagues me is called a "yellow fly" that attacks the back of your calves. Wearing long pants and socks is uncomfortable in the heat; I'd like to experiment with tanglefoot and the color blue but I've no ideas yet.
    Marc in South Florida

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  7. Congratulations Diane!! This blog is awesome! Even though there are no deer flies in our area, it's impressive to see the amount of work you've put into this. This may sound like a stupid question, but couldn't you set up sticks around the perimeter of the property and put the blue cups on the sticks,
    or are they attracted by motion? Your success rate at this kind of tells me that the 'cups on sticks' probably wouldn't work as well. Keep up the good work and I'll be checking in here often to catch up on the totals.....say hi to Steve !!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your research results- that is a lot of flies to count each day! It's interesting that you found no correlation to temperature or humidity- I hope you keep up the work to get a full year's data.
    I am interested in your choice of colour of the umbrella- I wonder if a dark blue or completely black one, or some colour not attractive to the deer flies might attract more/fewer flies to the cups?
    Thanks again! I'll be keeping up with your blog. It has been my experience that by the first week of August, numbers drop off significantly. I live in east central Ontario- we have plenty of deerflies and they make our lives (especially our dogs' lives, when we try to get in a walk) miserable. I have found that a 2% mix of essential oils- pine oil, juniper oil, catnip, peppermint oil and neem plus emulisfyuing agent, mixed in a spray bottle with water and soaked onto their fur, especially the head and neck area does a great job of repelling the flies. They are still attracted to the dogs but they don't land and bite. the only downside is that the spray needs to be re applied often (every 5-10 minutes or so) for maximum effect.

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  9. Wow that is amazing!!!! Now can you come up with something that does not require an hour a day and will work on its own? I notice that they are very attracted to the mirrors on my truck when I leave the barn in the morning. Wondering if there would be someway to set up a tent and trap them in there, using mirrors and maybe something that moves???
    Thanks for the best "how to" photography I have ever seen.
    Warmest Regards,
    Stephanie

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  10. Brilliant idea. Here is what I'm trying. I had read that deer flies are attracted not only to blue but also to bright shiny objects like CDs. I drilled a small hole through 2 old CDs (or DVDs) and used a thin wire to put the two CDs back to back so the clear shiny side was out (label sides were back to back). Then I attached a blue cup to each side centered on the CD (drilled 3 equally distant tiny holes in the cup and the CDs and again used thin wire) and used the idea of the umbrella person and put plastic sandwich bags on two more blue cups and applied tanglefoot. I then hung the contraption on an arch my wife has in the garden. So will see results tomorrow. Unfortunately there is no wind to cause the object to move and attract the little buggers. But I just thought of using 1 and 1/2 inch PVC pipe with 1/2 inch PVC as a cross members to hand the object from to get it higher off the ground.

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  11. Is there something unique about the blue cups or can another color be used? Could I use another umbrella that isn't black & white? Is the umbrella just the holder of the cups or does it attract in some way?

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  12. Any particular reason why you choose to use the canned version of the Tangle-Trap Sticky Coating vs. the spray version? Obviously, it would easier to apply the spray version.

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  13. Thanks for your question regarding the spray version of Tangle-Trap. I should clarify that I've never tried the spray version, so I can't comment on whether or not it would work as well as the canned version. There are two reasons I never tried the spray version (although it probably would be easier to apply). One is that the canned version is more economical. The second reason is that I figured the spray version might be thinner (that is, it might be a bit watered down) compared to the canned version (which is a thick paste) in order for the product to be sprayed. In any case, I've never tried the spray version, and so I cannot comment on its use. The only reason I had mentioned that I use the canned version is simply because I wanted to be very clear on exactly how I do my deer fly trapping.

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  14. I just searched the web to find out when deer fly season ends in Michigan and I quickly found your website -- you literally have the perfect blog!! (I also live in Livingston County). :)

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  15. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Very helpful information specially the remaining part :) I care for such information much. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thanks and best of luck.
    http://www.finduslivingston.com/

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  16. Just came upon your site and I love your method! I've been walking around our rural, wooded property in Eastern Ontario with a blue pail covered in tanglefoot on top of my head. On top of the obvious fashion shortcomings it often gets stuck in my hair. And, the sound of the trapped flies buzzing inside the pail can be quite disconcerting. This year I am going to try being an umbrella girl. If you are still blogging this summer I will let you know how your method works up here.

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    1. Oh I would definitely love to hear back from you in order to find out how your trapping is going and whether the umbrella works out for you. And let us all know if you come up with any improvements. Happy trapping!

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  17. Thank you for your research! I am an avid trail runner and just found your site. I have been seriously attacked twice -once in Novi and once at Island Lake, the first in June of 2011 and the second in July. The first experience was a bloody painful mess which lasted a mile sprint back to my car! I have thankfully found deerfly tape which I attach to my hat-but the tape can become covered so quickly I have found it best to stick to road running in the peak weeks of their life cycle. I also only run in white and apply deet.
    Your research has helped me decide when to not brave the woods in the next 3 weeks.
    Looks like I might be safe at Island Lake this week-end and maybe June 2,3:)

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  18. Beautifully done research! I've used a plastic helmet covered with blue painter's tape,
    Saran wrap, and then canned Tanglefoot with good success. Your technique looks to be more comfortable given that it provides shade and no sweat-soaked head like my helmet did yesterday on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in Alabama.

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    1. If you keep track of how many deer flies you catch in Alabama this season then maybe you could report back here and let us all know how you did. Are you going to try the umbrella?

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  19. You can order the deer fly tape(TRED-NOT DEERFLY PATCHES) by calling Detex AT 231-832-2323. VER IN-EXPENSIVE AND THEY WORK!

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  20. I live in Oakland county on ten acres and the deer flys make ny live miserable. I would like to try the umbrella method, but can't find the tangle-trap product. where do you purchase it at?

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  21. I purchase the Tangle Trap on Amazon because I cannot find it locally. Be sure to get the correct product (Tangle Trap as pictured in this post ... either the cans as shown here or the quart size cans). Do not get their product for trees or other applications as those are quite different. Good luck and happy trapping!

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  22. When should they be gone? I thought they started a little earlier this year, like early June in northern Oakland Co., so I was counting on them being gone mid July. I'm have a outdoor party next Sat. (7/20) and was counting on they being gone but they still seem just as bad as of today!

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    1. The deer fly season will last 8 weeks regardless of when it begins. If you trap deer flies during the morning of the day of your party, or even just a few hours before your party, you may experience a deer fly-free party. But you'd have to do something serious (like the umbrella) instead of something small (like a single cup on a hat) in order to capture the majority of the deer flies that are hanging around on your property. Here's wishing you a deer fly-free celebration!

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    2. You could have fun and equip each of your party guests with their very own hat with a blue cup on it (covered, of course, with a sandwich baggie that has Tangle-Trap coated onto it) and then make it a game and see who can trap the most deer flies. Give the winner a party favor for their good work!

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  23. Great info, and I appreciate the detailed "how to" and data collection. As for unattended Tangle Trap uses, folks should remember that the sticky stuff will capture other insects (dragonflies) as well as birds. Birds certainly would be attracted to the free buffet and then their feathers would be badly damaged, if they were even able to escape. In fact "tangle foot" is a product that has been used to destroy bird populations for a long time.

    That said, I'm going to make a hand held trap so I can slow down the flies and enjoy the outdoors taking pictures of birds!

    Thanks again.

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    1. Thanks, John, for sharing the info regarding unattended Tangle-Trap coated surfaces. We certainly don't want to harm birds or dragonflies, so thanks for letting us all know about this. I am very happy with the fact that a trolling trap (like the umbrella) is very specific for deer flies. Quite amazingly so really. Happy deer fly trapping! May your deer fly population be greatly diminished!

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  24. Although I've seen numerous devices made by people who swear blue is the best color for attracting them, I think experimenting with skin colors or fur colors might be worth it. Also creating a roller coaster like track similar to the ones they put cameras on for tracking shots, and put the fly capture device on a cart on the track... put a small motor on the cart and feed it juice though the rails.

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  25. You rock! The deer fly is the biggest obstacle to enjoying our yard here in northern Indiana. Thanks for the time you put in to this!!

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  26. Love that you posted this site. I had done the research and found the same information that tanglefoot applied to a blue cups indeed works. we use the double cup method per your suggestion (thank you) but have them duct taped on long orange sticks. Going trolling around the property gets rid of most for the day. I now will walk the 5 minute walk down my driveway to retrieve the mail which I would not have done before this product discovery. They're bites do not feel that pleasant! The deerfly here in Howell Twp. MI arrived Sunday June 15.

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  27. Great blog! I've been working on deer fly trapping for several years and now use 15 'traps' each consisting of a blue storage bin up side down, on fiberglass pole legs as the attractant, and a blue sticky cup on a nearby pole as the 'trap. We also troll, at times, but the stationary cups catch up to 45 flies per day. Unfortunately, catching a couple of hundred flies per day is not eliminating the annoyance so far this summer.

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  28. We use blue buckets coated and attached to two PVC poles on the back of our lawn tractor. We ride around the yard and the buckets bounce and sway at human head hgt. We catch thousands, we also coat blue plastic throw away plates and hang them with thin wire amongst our pine trees the movement from the breeze is enough to catch thousands.
    I am allergic to the bites and swell up golf ball sized when bitten

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You are very welcome to leave a comment, ask a question, share your own experience, give feedback. I will, however, be moderating comments and will not approve any that are inappropriate (but don't worry, I am not easily offended).