Controlling flies can seem like an impossible battle. They reproduce quickly, and they’re unbelievably challenging to catch. You need an effective product that you can set up to catch those buggers, with little effort on your end.
With the best fly trap, you can install, hang, or plug it in and forget about it while it does its job, which is what you want when the weather’s warm. You’d rather be grilling or tossing a Frisbee in the yard than playing bug-buster and knocking knickknacks off the shelf with errant swats of a flyswatter.
These traps use sticky pads, electronic zappers, and good old-fashioned funnels to trap and remove flies from the equation. Here’s a look at some of the best fly traps for DIY pest control.
- BEST OVERALL: Safer Brand Victor Fly Magnet Reusable Trap
- BEST BUDGET: Black Flag Fly Paper Insect Trap
- BEST DISPOSABLE: RESCUE! Outdoor Disposable Hanging Fly Trap
- BEST BUG ZAPPER: BLACK+DECKER Bug Zapper
- BEST FRUIT FLY TRAP: FlyFix Fruit Fly Trap
Before You Buy Fly Traps
Understand that these fly traps are not for everyone. You might find that some traps don’t last long or fill up too quickly to be useful in situations with a heavy concentration of flies (like near cattle ranches or horse corrals).
Also, if you’re particularly squeamish about dead bugs, choose your trap carefully. Most of these options require emptying, meaning you’ll have to handle a trap full of insect bodies to use them more than once. Keep that in mind if you’re determined to decimate a fly population in your home or yard.
Types of Fly Traps
Calling an exterminator for most crawling bugs is a good move, but for flies, you’ll find that it’s money down the drain. The best way to end their reign of disgusting terror is to trap and ground them for good.
If you aren’t familiar with fly traps, these products have special designs that lure flies into their grips and never let them go. Some might zap the bugs while others trap them until they dehydrate. Poison also is a popular choice. Your needs and where you plan on installing these fly traps (indoors or outdoors), should determine the style you choose.
Outdoor-Use Fly Traps
Outdoor fly traps have features best appreciated outside of the home. They’re excellent for backyards, patio areas, barbecue grill stations, and even a garage or shop setting. They typically hold lots of dead bugs and sometimes feature a reusable design.
Although it may seem strange to use a fly trap intended for outdoor but not indoor use, the difference typically comes down to the design. Plus, if you enjoy family meals on the deck or patio, outdoor fly control keeps the activity fun and bug-free. Most outdoor fly traps contain chemicals or liquids that would make an awful mess if they leaked or were dropped inside a home.
These chemicals attract the flies through scent, killing them once they’ve eaten the liquid or exhausted themselves inside the trap.
Odorless Indoor Fly Traps
Some indoor fly trap options can help to control the winged bug population in your home without the unattractive odors or chemicals of outdoor-style models.
Some tabletop indoor fly trap models include a bug-attracting light that lures the flies in, a fan to push them into the base, and a sticky surface that grabs hold and doesn’t let go. To reuse these models, you simply replace the sticky strip and set the trap back out on the table.
Another fly trap option that works particularly well with fruit flies has a bait (juice, sugar cube, or something relatively pleasant and chemical-free) to lure the flies into a funnel. Once in the trap, they can’t find their way out, thus creating their final resting place. These can get a little nasty over a few days, and users need to pour the juice out and replace it, typically while it’s full of floating bug bodies.
UV Bug-Zapping Machines
For waging serious warfare against these pesky pests, UV bug zappers are the way to go. The light attracts the flying insects (flies, mosquitoes, fruit flies, and moths), and once they land on the light, the zapper electrifies and kills them.
These fly trap models are particularly useful at night when the light is most noticeable to bugs, although they can help control flies during the day as well. They’re most commonly used outdoors, however, you can purchase some indoor models (if you don’t mind the sound of a bug frying while you’re watching TV).
These fly traps don’t require sticky pads, scented lures, or anything messier than emptying the tray of dead bugs every now and then. Otherwise, you can set them up in a raised position slightly away from the area you’d like to turn bug-free, plug them in, and let them get to work.
What to Look for When Buying the Best Fly Traps
The number of fly trap products on the market can overwhelm buyers, so it really helps to have an idea of what you need before you decide on one. Some products veer toward more of a gimmick than an effective solution, but others are extremely effective at maintaining a no-fly zone over your picnics and kitchen. Here are some things to look for in the best fly traps.
The method that traps the flies is important to understand.
- For buyers who like to keep things simple, a sticky pad or strip will grab hold of the flies’ bodies so they can’t escape.
- Another effective method is the funnel-style trap mentioned earlier. Whether they’re used in conjunction with a sticky surface or a chemical poison, funnels create a puzzle that flies can’t seem to figure out. They land on the funnel and walk in, but they can’t walk back out.
- Other more technologically advanced methods include zappers and fans that dehydrate the bugs to death. These are effective, but require a power source like an extension cord or set of batteries.
It’s essential to consider the safety of the style of the fly trap you use. If you have children or pets, you can’t put safety considerations on the back burner.
If you’re determined to use chemical traps, you must hang them high enough so that a child, dog, cat, or even livestock can’t get to them. The chemicals are intended to kill bugs and simply are not safe for human or animal contact.
For plug-in outdoor zappers and traps, plugging them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet proves safest. In the event of rain or water, a GFCI can trip when it detects a surge, shutting the outlet and attached devices down, and keeping everyone safe.
Ease of Use
The simpler you make your fly-trapping campaign, the more likely you’ll succeed with it. Complicated traps and chemical concoctions might turn you off to the process altogether, so think about maintaining and emptying the fly trap you choose.
Electronic models that can hang on a nail or screw, or sit on a tabletop, will start trapping bugs in no time at all. Some even forgo an on-off switch. All they need is a power source and they’ll set about their job automatically.
If you’re using another fly trap method, it’s worth checking into how users set it up. Traps that require a lot of fiddling with trap doors, chemicals, and complicated hanging methods can frustrate users even if the traps work well.
One of the least desirable features of fly traps is the few times a year that you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and empty the tray, replace the sticky strip, or throw out a wet bag full of dead flies. The cleaner and simpler the design makes this step, the better off you’ll be.
Look for products that are easy to empty or dispose of. For electronic models, having a removable tray makes discarding the waste a simpler process than removing an entire device and dumping it over a trash can.
If you’d like a straightforward solution, consider purchasing disposable, non-reusable traps that you can throw away without any messy trap doors or leaky joints. Quality disposable products make this process a focus of their design.
Our Top Picks
DIY pest control can be a dicey territory for those with a weak stomach, and that’s okay. But some of the best fly trap choices consider this in the design. Consider these top-rated fly traps for your DIY pest control needs. Purchasing the right one will help keep your home’s winged bug population to a minimum.
This insect trap is an effective way to kill flies over and over again. The bottle-style traps use bait and a specially designed entrance to trap and kill flies effectively. The extremely potent bait and the white color of the lid attract lots of flies.
The bait lures them in, but they’re unable to get out. They eventually drown in the very liquid that lured them into the trap. To reuse, just dump the contents of the jar and replace the bait with a new packet of lure. Maybe best of all, this product is nonpoisonous and safe around children and pets.
These traps are extremely effective and will catch a lot of flies. The mix of flies and liquid can lead to a nasty mess if users are not careful while emptying. Squeamish individuals might prefer disposable traps.
- Type: Bait
- Reusable: Yes
- Disposal: Empty contents of jar
- Potent bait and white lid to attract flies
- Safe around children and pets
- Dump jar contents and replace bait packet to reuse
- Very effective at attracting flies
- Requires refill with new bait, not for squeamish users
- Buzzing flies and bait smell not ideal in close spaces
- Best for outdoor use, smelly for indoors
If it’s savings you’re after, then a fly paper trap like this one from Black Flag is the way to go. These traps resemble strips often seen in horse and cattle barns. Simply open the package, allow the paper to unravel, and hang the trap in a spot that sees the most flies. They’re attracted to the surface and stick once they land.
The sticky traps are perfect for users who don’t mind looking at some dead bugs and who don’t want to rely on harmful chemicals. They don’t hide the bugs they’ve trapped—flies just sit on the surface and die. That’s easily overcome by placement, such as up high where flies gather in warmth but out of the direct line of sight.
- Type: Sticky paper
- Reusable: No
- Disposal: Throw away once filled
- Set of four trap strips
- Affordable choice for fly control
- Quick and easy to set up
- Avoids use of chemicals
- Unattractive indoor option, even when empty
- Dead flies are visible until the trap is taken down
For a truly effective disposable trap, the RESCUE! brand hanging fly trap is a pest control favorite. This model uses a chemical compound that activates when the user fills the bag with water. The chemical then attracts flies into the bag and poisons them. In a fly-laden yard, it’s possible to fill an entire bag with dead flies within a week. When filled, simply remove the trap from its perch and throw it in the garbage. This is a simple, effective, and mess-free method of controlling fly populations.
Though the disposable nature of the RESCUE! makes it mess-free, the trap is so effective that users might have to replace it more often than some fly traps. Users can purchase an 8-pack of the traps for season-long use in most areas.
- Type: Bait
- Reusable: No
- Disposal: Throw away bag once filled
- Effective disposable fly trap
- Chemical inside bag attracts flies
- Easy to activate by filling with water and hanging
- Simple to remove and dispose of
- Can fill quickly
- Outdoor use only
- Smells bad, so placement matters
This BLACK+DECKER outdoor bug zapper provides protection against flying pests across as much as a half-acre with its high-intensity UV light. Made for the outdoors, its waterproof housing keeps the zapper lit and operating even during a storm. Quiet operation and casing that keeps UV light out of eyes make this zapper discreet.
The BLACK+DECKER zapper includes a number of other practical features. A removable collection tray and small cleaning brush make for easy maintenance. The zapper also features a sleek and attractive cover, a hook for hanging, a flat base for tabletop use, and a 5-foot power cord.
- Type: Zapper
- Reusable: Yes
- Disposal: Removable tray
- Easy to empty and clean
- Wide-area coverage
- Suitable both indoors and outdoors
- Convenient hanging hook
- Requires electrical outlet
- Kills beneficial bugs
Fruit flies are seriously annoying. They appear in droves and prove difficult to control. With FlyFix’s trap, users can catch these pesky buggers with this relatively attractive countertop or picnic table ornament. These traps separate in half for easy baiting with old fruit or juice. Flies will travel down the funnel and get trapped inside, unable to find their way out. When the bait loses its effectiveness, simply separating the halves and dumping the contents in the trash cleans them out and readies them for refilling.
It’s best to use a relatively smelly bait because the funnel has a tiny opening and the scent might not compel all fly-by bugs to enter. Old bananas work best.
- Type: Bait
- Reusable: Yes
- Disposal: Empty container when full
- Attractive look
- Fruit flies cannot escape the trap
- Easy to fill with homemade bait
- Chemical-free fruit fly control
- Odor can require frequent disposal and refill
- Might not tackle large infestations
Fly traps can make outdoor and indoor get-togethers much more enjoyable. The Safer Brand fly trap is a reliable, reusable means of fly control. Those who want chemical-free and odor-free fly removal might prefer the BLACK+DECKER bug zapper for continuous control of flies and other insects.
How We Chose the Best Fly Traps
The best fly traps do just that—attract and then trap or kill flies so they cannot escape and breed. We looked at the effectiveness of trapping design or mechanism for top fly traps. We also considered safety, especially when traps use chemicals. Ease of use is important, and this covers a product’s setup, refilling or reuse, and ease of cleaning.
We also considered disposal methods, since emptying or throwing out the trap can be the least-favored task for squeamish household members. Electronic traps require some setup, but they usually have removable trays for easy emptying. Disposable traps—the simple Black Flag Fly Paper Insect Trap, for example—take the least amount of time to switch out.
The Advantages of Owning Fly Traps
If you and your family enjoy spending time in outdoor living spaces, you’ll appreciate having your own fly trap. These models can hang, plug into outlets, or activate anywhere you’d like to sit and have a relaxing evening. Sitting outside will be more enjoyable when you’re not swatting flies away from your favorite snacks.
For those with active children or pets, it’s hard to keep bugs out of the house. They’re always opening the doors and traipsing in and out. Inevitably, bugs make their way in and start pestering you. An indoor fly trap can help to offset this swinging-door inconvenience by quietly plucking insects from the air and collecting them on an easily removed sticky pad.
It’s also worth noting that flies can spread disease. Research has shown that houseflies can transmit germs and bacteria leading to food poisoning, dysentery, and diarrhea. Having your own fly trap allows you to handle the problem before these insects have the chance to make you or your family sick.
- You’ll be able to enjoy your outdoor living spaces peacefully.
- You’ll catch bugs that make their way into your home through doors left open by children and pets.
- Fly traps prevent diseases like food poisoning, dysentery, and diarrhea by trapping flies.
Still have lingering questions on fly traps and how they work? See answers to the frequently asked questions below.
Q: How do you get rid of house flies fast?
Electric zappers can catch and jolt flies dead quickly, but the sound might be jarring. Still, they are fast, chemical-free, and have no odor for indoor or outdoor fly control.
Q: Can fly traps attract more flies?
Some fly traps with odorous chemicals can attract flies from the neighborhood, but they will catch and trap most of them. Still, placement matters; you probably don’t want to hang it by your back door. Place the trap where you and flies can reach it but where it won’t bring their buddies or the smell to your pool party.
Q: How long does a fly infestation last?
That depends on whether you can stop the breeding process. Flies live between 15 and 25 days, and in that time one fly might lay eggs five to six times at 150 eggs each time! Adult fruit flies can lay 2,000 eggs at once.
Q: How long does it take for a fly trap to work?
The best fly traps work instantly. Chemical or food-based baits might take a day or so to reach full scent and begin attracting lots of flies. Strips and electric zappers should begin to work immediately.
Q: Does air freshener kill flies?
Air freshener might help repel flies but will not kill them. In the past, formaldehyde in air fresheners was suggested as a pest solution, but the chemical is no longer used in today’s more natural air fresheners.
Q: Where is the best place to hang fly paper?
Indoors, choose a mostly sunny spot, like near a window. Flies also flock to warmth, so higher spots will catch more flies and prevent family members from having to duck the traps. Placing them high outdoors also helps, typically from a roof or other overhang, as long as it is not too close to your living space. Or just observe where flies tend to gather around your yard, like near outdoor garbage bins, and place the paper traps near those spots.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Tom Scalisi is a freelance writer specializing in the home design, construction, tools, and automotive industries. He has been involved in the trades for over 15 years as both a contractor and a commercial building mechanic. Tom has written for several online blogs and magazines including Next Luxury, The Drive, Car Bibles, and PowerTüls. In addition to his professional life, Tom enjoys getting outside on his mountain bike, camping, beekeeping, and fishing. Tom is also an avid racing and baseball fan. He lives in NY’s Hudson Valley with his wife, their three children, and three dogs.