DIY Fly Trap (H-Trap/Manning Trap)

Do you have flies and other biting bugs? If you have any outdoor animals, I’m sure you have your fair share of some of these bugs. At my house, we use a multi-step approach to fighting biting bugs and one is this fly trap. Based on the concept for an H-Trap or Manning Trap, you can buy these contraptions from online retailers for nearly $300! Or you can build yourself one for much much less.

The idea behind this, is that a biting bug (let’s say a horse fly) is attracted to dark colors, heat, and moving objects. The fly lands on the black ball that is in the center of the trap. Once it learns it’s a fake it flies away, but only flies upward, not straight out or downward. As it continues to fly up, it eventually tunnels into the catch jar at the top and dies.

For me, this was worth a shot because my other options so far were repeatedly putting out chemicals every 2-4 weeks, and repeatedly applying tanglefoot to other objects like boards and a black bug ball. (Which I actually still do).

So, if you’re interested in giving this a try, here are the general steps for building this one:

Here’s what you’ll need to build this fly trap:
-Pressure-treated 2×2 (TIP: if you have a table saw, you can save money by purchasing 2x4s and cutting 2-1.5×1.5 boards and then you can use the excess as trim pieces. Around here, a 2×4 is $3.27 and a 2×2 is $3.77)
-(qty 4) 4′ long
-(qty 8) 24″ long
-(qty 4) 21″ long (approx)
-1×6 board (or plywood to make this piece. A scrap piece would be great)
-1 gallon plastic jug with lid (something like this (I just used an old jar i found lying around the house)
-Funnel (the largest diameter of the funnel has to fit inside the lid of the jar)
-Black Bug Ball (I bought this 2 pk from Amazon. I covered the other one with Tanglefoot and hung it up near the barn)
-Bug Screen
-Wood Glue
-2 1/2″ or 3″ Exterior Screws

First, cut your frame pieces & legs.

Assemble the frame pieces & legs, using 2 1/2 or 3″ exterior screws and wood glue.

Next, is the tunnel portion of the trap. Cut (4) pieces with a 45deg angle on each end. If your frame dimensions are different than mine, you’ll have to do a little math to figure out what the correct angle or length is.

Each angled piece attaches to a corner of the top of the frame, like the shown in the photo below. We used 1 screw in each corner, in addition to wood glue. We had a scrap 1×6 board laying around we just cut to length to fit at the top. I have a few more up-close photos further below.

Take the lid of your plastic jug and use it to trace a circle that is about 1″ in diameter SMALLER than the lid in the middle of your top board, then cut it out. If you look real close, you can see our pencil mark on the inside of the black lid. You’re going to cut out that hole in the black lid as well.

Here’s a few more photos that show how the top board attaches to the angled pieces. You can see it’s not perfect, but works. We did make sure that the 1×6 board and the hole we had to cut out left enough space for the angled pieces to attach to the top board without getting in the way of the cut-out hole.

Next, you’re ready to attach the catch jar. Glue your black lid on top, upside down. We used 2 tiny screws from the top as well. Then place your funnel inside the lid. We had this funnel laying around and it was way too tall so we cut it a bit shorter. It sits nicely inside the black lid. After the glue dries, you can screw on the plastic jug.

I don’t have any pictures of the next couple steps, which is attaching the bug screen and trim. We rolled the screen around the square portion, stapling at each corner post. We covered the staples with some trim pieces (it was actually excess from ripping down the 2×4 boards, so it worked out perfect!)

Attaching the Bug Ball- Eric drilled a hole through two opposite corners about the same size of a nail, as shown in the photo below. You just tap the nail in just enough so the wire doesn’t come unwrapped. We used fishing wire but I’m sure there’s lots of other ways to do this part. We weren’t sure what the ideal height of the Bug Ball would be, so the fishing line is wrapped around the nail multiple times so it can be adjusted.

Sorry about the messy background! That’s just life around here.

When you see the jar filling up with bugs, you just unscrew the jug and empty it out!
So, the Verdict- Does it work?

Yes and No. It does catch bugs! I kindof can’t believe it works. We noticed a lot of mosquitoes and flies were actually getting trapped. I will say, a lot of bugs didn’t quite make it all the way up into the jar and died on the cross members. However, my main target was horse flies and I’ve only seen a small handful get caught in here. I wonder if I move it, if I’ll eventually find a spot where it catches more of those buggers.

At the end of the day, this is not going to be your only answer to fighting bugs, but rather one element of a multi-pronged approach and one that is worth trying!

Good luck! Let me know if you’re catching a lot of bugs with this!

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