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What is Flypaper?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Flypaper is a product which is designed to trap houseflies and other insects. It is often used in homes which are dealing with insect infestations, and it is also employed in studies of insect populations. Scientists who are concerned about invasive species like the glassy-winged sharpshooter may use flypaper to trap insect specimens in vulnerable areas, ensuring that they are alerted early to a potential invasion. Many hardware stores and markets sell fly paper, in a variety of sizes and styles.

Very basic flypaper is just sticky paper, usually with an attractant to encourage flies to land on it. When the flies or insects land, the flypaper traps them. Insects trapped on sticky paper will slowly starve to death, but it is a reasonably effective tool for getting rid of insect invasions. When a strip becomes covered in flies, it can be discarded. If the insect invasion continues, a new piece of flypaper may be hung.

More typically, flypaper includes a dose of poison so that insects will die rapidly when they land on it. In addition to being more humane, this is more pleasant for people in the same environment, as they don't have to listen to flies and insects buzzing their wings until they die. Poisonous paper needs to be handled with care, as it can be toxic to pets and people as well. It should be carefully wrapped before being discarded, and you should always wash your hands after handling this type of flypaper.

Flypaper may also be used in fly traps. Fly traps with fly paper are smaller and less intrusive than fly paper, since they don't hang down in the middle of a room. They are usually designed in the form of small boxes lined with flypaper which can be set out around a structure which is experiencing a fly invasion. When the box becomes filled with flies, it is discarded. Other types of fly traps may be designed without sticky paper, such as narrow necked bottles filled with bait which allow flies to climb in, but not to get out.

When used in scientific studies, flypaper may be hung around farms and vineyards with the permission of the owner. Biologists regularly check the flypaper or ask the land owner to bring in the flypaper periodically so that the biologists can study the insects which have landed on it. Many farmers are happy to cooperate with programs like this, since insects pose a serious threat to many crops.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By drtroubles — On Jul 08, 2011

If you are on a budget or just don't have time to run to the store it is really easy to make flypaper at home with just everyday household goods. For myself when I am in a bind I just take a paper bag and cut it into long strips. Next, I boil about a quart of corn syrup with the same amount of water in a big pot and when that's done I dip the paper into it.

Let the paper dry and then tack it up on the wall. Flies and other insects will find the paper irresistible and you'll soon have a nearly bug free home.

By shell4life — On Jul 08, 2011

My mom bought flypaper to help her deal with her ant problem. No matter where she stored her food, ants were finding it. They were on her counter tops, her table, and had even gotten into her cabinets from above!

She had heard that one way to solve an ant problem was to put your table legs in water, but since she did not want to ruin her table and because the ants were getting in everywhere, she decided to try flypaper instead.

She surrounded cereal boxes, loaves of bread, and boxes of crackers with a moat of flypaper. She placed it on top of the cabinets and under the table. She caught plenty of ants. For awhile there, she was convinced that she could deal with the problem this way, because she did not want to hire an exterminator.

However, this solution could not eliminate all of them. Unless she had covered her entire house with flypaper, she could not protect every area from every tiny little ant. She caved and called pest control. Flypaper was worth a shot, though, because it worked as much as it could have.

By lonelygod — On Jul 08, 2011

If you need to use flypaper around your home due to an insect problem a good idea is to place it on the tops of bookshelves and other out of sight places. I had an apartment a few years ago that had a terrible problem with flies getting in, as they took forever to replace the screen on my window. I ended up having flypaper on most of the out of the way surfaces of my place.

I think the best idea is just to keep the flypaper out of your line of sight and that way you don't have to worry about guests catching a glimpse of any bugs in their last living moments.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 07, 2011

I like to place flypaper in my windows behind the curtains. I have guests over often, and my flypaper remains hidden because I won't open the curtains when anyone is in the house.

It seems to me that anytime I try to swat a fly or other insect, they always run to the windows. They maneuver their way around the curtain and bop their heads against the glass for hours. It is so annoying.

So, the window is the perfect place to catch them. I tried it one night when they were keeping me awake with their buzzing and knocking against the glass, and it worked quickly.

By Perdido — On Jul 07, 2011

I cannot use the toxic flypaper around my home, because my Weimaraner will eat it. She is obsessed with catching bugs, and if they are rendered motionless before her, she cannot resist.

I make my own flypaper using wax paper, glue, cardboard, and honey. I glue the wax paper to the cardboard with nontoxic glue to make it sturdy. Then, I coat the surface with honey. I set the flypaper on various flat surfaces like counter tops, tables, and the piano.

I feel safe leaving my dog indoors alone with homemade flypaper. She likes to eat cardboard anyway, so I know if I catch anything on the flypaper, she will take care of it and I won't have to stomp on the bugs to kill them.

By Azuza — On Jul 07, 2011

@KaBoom - Flypaper is definitely a little bit unsightly but I find it totally necessary in my home. One other useful thing I've found it that white wine is very effective for fruit flies in the kitchen.

One of my neighbors recommended this to me and it sounds weird, but it works. If you leave a glass of white wine (the cheap stuff is OK!) on the kitchen counter the fruit flies will dive in it and drown. I actually got rid of an unpleasant fruit fly infestation this way.

By KaBoom — On Jul 06, 2011

Flypaper is gross, but fairly effective. It also doesn't trap just flies but other flying bugs as well such as gnats and small beetles. I recently moved to a new apartment in a wooded area and flypaper is a pretty essential part of my anti-bug arsenal.

I also discovered that it helps if you can hang the flypaper near a light. It is definitely unsightly, so we usually move it near a light right before we go to bed. Then in the morning we move the flypaper to a less noticeable location.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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