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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Making a fly and insect trap

Last week, I was working at and on the periphery of the Bellingen Readers' and Writers' Festival, where I gave workshops to children in Years 3 to 6, a selection from my novel about mad sheep, did a panel appearance and also gave the Mary White Address at the Dorrigo Rain Forest Centre.

Three things stood out in the schools program.  One was making a pooter: see the Youtube clip here; the use of an upside-down umbrella, which I will come to later, and the construction of a simple trap for flies that can be adapted to catch fish or small crustaceans.

This is a simple idea, based on a simple hack that took me ages to develop, but which I am sharing for free. This is a very simple device to make, once you know a very simple hack that is easy to apply, but it was very hard to come up with. Like all simple hacks, there are probably lots of other ways that readers can apply this. If you think of one, please share it with me by way of a comment on this blog.
The finished product in its dry-land form.

You need two 1.25 litre clear plastic bottles, some sharp straight scissors, a sharp knife, and preferably a pair of nail scissors. You also need a thick wad of old newspaper to stop you stabbing the table or desk, and you need your thinking cap on! If you can’t think, wear a thick gardening glove to protect your other hand, the one that isn’t operating scissors,

Look at the pictures as you follow the instructions.

Take one of the bottles, and cut a slit, just below the bottle’s “shoulder”. Then use the straight scissors to cut around the bottle to make a funnel. If this part has a cap on it, remove the cap, but keep it.

Now take the other bottle. Remove any label on it, and use the knife or scissors to make a small hole in the side.

This is the point where you need to think, so you don’t cut or stab yourself. Then use scissors to make a neat round hole, about the same size as the neck of the funnel.

Go slowly, remembering the rule of holes: you can easily make a hole larger, but you can’t ever make a hole smaller. Don’t worry if the hole is smaller than the neck: here comes the trick!

Using the picture for reference, make a series of small snips, about 5 mm long, radiating away from the centre of the circle.

Now you have a hole, surrounded by a series of flexible flaps. Push the funnel through, and it will clip into place.

You may need to try this a couple of times before you get it right. Then if there isn’t a cap on the bottle, fit one.

Using the trap

If you remove the funnel, you can add some bait, and what you use is up to you: a bit of banana peel or an apple core will attract fruit fly, fresh or rotten meat ought to attract bush flies, house flies and blow flies. What you use is for you to decide. Just remember that the easy way to get bait inside is to remove the funnel and use that hole.

You can also use the trap in water: add a few pebbles to weigh it down, tie a string to the neck of the bottle, add some bait, tie the string to something, and sink the trap in water for 24 hours or so before pulling it in, using the string.

You might also like testing to see if a waterproofed torch works at attracting stuff overnight: this is a tool that doesn’t come with instructions, so play with it as you wish — and remember that the trick with the flaps around the hole probably has other uses. If you think of one, please tell me!

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