Get rid of pesky deer flies with this easy-to-make hat trap

Thanks to a yard thick with deer flies, mowing the lawn used to be a nightmare for my husband Barry. Now, it’s a dream. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but it’s a whole lot better. He shares his secret to getting rid of deer flies in this guest post.

By Barry Atwood (2016)

A few years ago after being driven half crazy by deer flies, I did some research. I discovered a strategy to deal with them that actually works! For some reason, deer flies are attracted to the color blue. They also prefer heads as a place to take their bite.

So first, I acquired a royal blue baseball cap.

Then off to a garden center to buy a product called Tree Tanglefoot. It is an extremely sticky substance that you squeeze from a tube. It is primarily used to create a barrier at the base of a tree to prevent pest insects from climbing the tree.

You need to smear Tanglefoot all over the outside surface of the cap. It helps to wear disposable rubber gloves when you do this.

When you are done outside remove the hat and behold the (many) flies trapped in the goo. I have snared as many as 15 or 20 in a single outing. And even though I am not big on killing things, I do make an exception for deer flies and have dubbed my sticky fly trap the Blue Hat of Death. Trust me, it REALLY works!

Update from Barry August 2019

My Blue Hat of Death continues to do its job. The first time this spring that I got dive bombed in the back yard I retrieved it from the (high) hook in the barn where it lives in winter. Although the Tanglefoot probably remains sticky forever, I reapply a fresh coat each year.

I have incorporated the technique of putting strips of packing tape on my hat prior to slathering on the goo. This way the embedded deer fly carcasses can easily be discarded. I continue to marvel at the effectiveness of this unsightly invention.

Speaking of inventions, I have discovered something that is equally effective in repelling mosquitoes. I cannot dislike these relentless vampires enough when their twilight swarms make our deck all but unusable. The device(s) that work perfectly are marketed under the brand name of Thermacell. You can do a search to find various vendors (I am NOT being compensated to promote these products), we got ours from L.L. Bean.

If you go to the Thermacell website you will also see something they market as “tick tubes”. You can read about how they work but they sound like a promising new tool to fight the spread of tick borne illnesses. I have just ordered some to try as we have also been finding lots of deer ticks.

Feel free to comment

We appreciate your feedback and suggestions (especially covering the hat with clear tape). I’ll let you know how we do with the tick tubes. Crossing our fingers.

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.