Homemade Fly Trap

homemade fly trap

Your mission, if you choose to accept:

To fight back against the pests, vegetable-eating insects, and biting bugs on your homestead (or backyard).

Rules of Engagement:

  • No pesticides or toxic chemicals allowed.

Sound impossible? It’s not. BUT it will take some creativity and good old-fashioned homestead ingenuity.

Here are some weapons to add to your arsenal:

If you happen to sustain injuries in your battles, there’s always the DIY Bug Bite Relief Stick.

And here’s another heavy-hitter to add to the list: this homemade fly trap made from repurposed trash, so you don’t have to make a trip to the store to buy traps or bait. It doesn’t get much better than that. Let the battle commence!

Homemade Fly Trap

  • Repurposed plastic bottle
  • Water
  • Bait (see below)
  • A drop or two of liquid dish soap (optional)

This is so easy, it barely needs instructions. But just in case you need some extra clarification—>

homemade fly trap

Cut the top of the bottle off. Straight lines are not my forte… Thankfully, my homemade fly trap still works great, thankyouverymuch.

Flip the top over, and stick it back into the bottle’s base to form a funnel. You can glue it or tape it, if you like, but mine nestled in there snugly on its own.

homemade fly trap

Fill the bottom of the container with a bit of water (a couple inches is enough, just leave a gap between the bottom of the “funnel” and the water).

Add some smelly bait, and a drop or two of liquid dish soap. The dish soap clings to the flies wings, and traps them a bit better.

Homemade Fly Trap Bait Options:

Remember: flies like sweet and smelly things. So the sweeter and smellier, the better. You can use anything you have hanging around, but these are my favorite choices:

  • Sugar water or honey water
  • Fruit– especially slightly rotten or overripe fruit. Bananas and strawberries work beautifully.
  • A bit of raw meat, such as a pinch of ground meat, or trimmings from a steak
  • Fresh animal manure
  • Or all of the above (yuck)

And remember– the longer it sits, the better. So don’t hesitate to let it fester and ferment a bit (yuck, again…)

Set your homemade fly trap in a place where the bugs are driving you crazy and you’ll be capturing flies in no time.

Homemade Fly Trap Notes

  • The theory behind this trap is that the flies will be attracted to the scent and fly down the funnel. However, it’s quite difficult for them to figure out how to fly back up the funnel, and in their efforts to escape, they flop into the water… Then they’re toast. And it works!
  • If you want to hang your homemade fly trap, you can punch holes in the sides and hang it up by a bit of string.
  • Two-liter soda bottles are great for this, but any plastic bottle will do. I used an old juice jug—bonus points for having sticky juice residue inside.

homemade fly trap

DIY Mason Jar Cup with Straw

diy mason jar cups with straw

Why should you take the time to make DIY mason jar cups?

Allow me to present my case:

1) They are easy to throw together

2) They are cheap (price breakdown below)

3) Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is cooler in a mason jar. Am I right?

diy mason jar cups with straw

Of course, you could always buy the pre-made lid/straw thingies, but it’s just as easy (and cheap) to make them yourself. Here’s the price breakdown:

(this post contains affiliate links)

On Amazon, these pre-made lids and straws sell for $6.21 for a pack of two, plus shipping. Not a bad price, but let’s break down the cost of a DIY mason jar cup with straw:

  • One mason jar lid + ring: $0.45 IF you buy them new, but I recommend repurposing a used ones
  • One rubber grommet: $0.52 at Lowes
  • One paper straw (the paper ones are cute, but you could also use a reusable glass or stainless steel straw, or just a regular plastic one): $0.15

TOTAL: $1.12 (but probably cheaper because I’m betting you already have lids/rings)

See what I mean? Easy peasy.

And when you fill them with fizzy kombucha or homemade honey lemonade, you’ll officially be a DIY homesteading rockstar.

DIY mason jar cups with straw

DIY Mason Jar Cups with Straw

Makes one DIY mason jar cup with straw

  • Pint-sized canning jar
  • Canning jar lid
  • Canning jar ring
  • Rubber grommet (I got mine at Lowes)
  • Straw (paper, glass, plastic, or stainless steel straws will all work)
  • 3/8″ to 1/2″ drill bit, depending on the size of your straw

diy mason jar cups with straw

The size of the rubber grommet you need will depend on the size of your straw. I have some fat glass straws, and I wanted to be sure my lids would work for them, as well as my cute paper straws. Therefore, I used a grommet with an inner diameter of 3/8″ and an outer diameter of 5/8″. We also used a 1/2″ drill bit.

However, this will vary, depending on your straw, so play around a bit.

diy mason jar cups with straw

Drill an offset hole in the canning lid.

diy mason jar cups with straw

There were some raised/jagged edges, so we pounded them down a bit. You could also file them if you wanted. However, don’t be too worried about this, because the grommet will cover a multitude of sins.

diy mason jar cups with straw

Insert the grommet, wash the entire lid assembly thoroughly, and affix to your jar.

Now fill ‘er up and sip away!

diy mason jar cups with straw

Project Notes:

  • Definitely use old canning jar lids for this (you know, the ones where the seal isn’t good for actual canning anymore)
  • You could make DIY mason jar cups with quart-sized jars as well, as long as your straw is long enough.
  • These are perfect for older kids who still benefit from a spill-resistant cup, but aren’t as apt to break glass. My 5-year old thought they were the coolest thing ever.

5.0 from 1 reviews
DIY Mason Jar Cup with Straw
Author: 
Recipe type: DIY
Serves: 1 mason jar cup
 
Ingredients
  • Pint-sized canning jar
  • Canning jar lid
  • Canning jar ring
  • Rubber grommet (I got mine at Lowes)
  • Straw
  • ⅜" to ½" drill bit, depending on the size of your straw
Instructions
  1. The size of the rubber grommet you need will depend on the size of your straw. I have some fat glass straws from Strawesome, and I wanted to be sure my lids would work for them, as well as my cute paper straws. Therefore, I used a grommet with an inner diameter of ⅜", and a ½" drill bit.
  2. However, this will vary, depending on your straw, so play around a bit.
  3. Drill an offset hole in the canning lid.
  4. There were some raised/jagged edges, so we pounded them down a bit. You could also file them if you wanted. However, don't be too worried about this, because the grommet will cover a multitude of sins.
  5. Insert the grommet, wash the entire lid assembly thoroughly, and affix to your jar.
  6. Now fill 'er up and sip away!

DIY mason jar cups with straw

 

Organic Pest Control Garden Spray Recipe

homemade organic pest control spray recipe

I bet you didn’t know this, but…

I didn’t exactly grow up in an “organic” household.

In fact, my dad has worked in the farm chemical industry for years, both selling and applying herbicides and pesticides.

I grew up surrounded by every form of herbicide and insecticide you could imagine. All of our childhood coffee cups and kitchen utensils were emblazoned with the names of various chemicals and seed treatments.  I remember the seeds we planted in our garden each year were bright pink from the “pre-treatment” applied to them.

And as you can imagine, it makes for some, um, interesting conversations around the table when we go back to visit, considering I’m now the “Prairie Homestead Girl.”

But here I am, 20 years later, passionate about figuring out a better way. However I have to admit, the bugs eating my garden this year have made me want to say bad words…

homemade organic pest control spray recipe

My DIY Liquid Fence recipe is a good option for keeping out bunnies, but I still needed an organic pest control method to keep insects from mowing down my beans and beets.

I blame it on the extremely abnormal amounts of moisture dry ol’ Wyoming has had this year, but it’s been a constant battle to keep my poor little plants from being devoured.

I developed a system with the Prairie Kids where I pay them a penny per potato beetle picked. That has actually worked out pretty well, but my bigger problem are my other plants. The leaves are turning into lace, and I have yet to see the little munchers who are responsible…

The Prairie Kids pickin' bugs.
The Prairie Kids pickin’ bugs.

Which is why I turned to this homemade organic pest control garden spray. So far, it’s seemed to help the plants I’ve sprayed it on, the key is just being diligent with your spraying efforts.

Why use these ingredients?

Onions & Garlic: It’s a fact that most pests (including rabbits) don’t love the strong flavors of onion and garlic. Interestingly enough, the green bean rows next to my onion rows are mostly unaffected by nibbling insects, while the rows further away look like green bean lace.

Mint: Critters and creepy-crawlies tend to steer clear of mint as well. I love adding peppermint essential oil to my homemade bug sprays, and fresh mint leaves work the same way. I used the basic peppermint growing in my herb garden, but you could really use any variety of mint you have hanging around.

Cayenne: Spicy stuff isn’t the way to win your way to a hungry bug’s heart. But that’s what we want.

Soap: Adding a bit of liquid soap to your organic pest control spray helps it cling to the plant’s leaves.

homemade organic pest control spray recipe

Organic Pest Control Garden Spray Recipe

Makes one gallon

  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups mint leaves OR 20 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap (or biodegradable liquid dish soap)
  • Water

Place the onion, garlic, peppermint, and cayenne in a blender, and pulverize it.

Allow the mixture to soak/steep for a couple hours (optional, but do it if you can), then strain with a fine mesh strainer.

Add the onion/garlic mixture to a one-gallon contain (an old milk jug or vinegar jug will work), add the soap, and enough water to make one gallon.

Pour into a spray bottle and spritz on any plants being attacked by bugs.

Spray 1-2 times per week, or after a heavy rain.

Notes:

  • Make sure you use a super-fine mesh strainer, (or maybe even cheesecloth?) to strain this stuff. Otherwise, it’ll clog your sprayer, which is annoying.
  • It’s best to NOT spray this on the parts of the plant you want to eat, just so you don’t end up with a little extra “flavoring”…
  • I generally try to spray in the evening when the sun isn’t as hot, otherwise, there’s a risk of the spray and sun combination burning the leaves of your plants a bit.
  • I don’t spray this over my entire garden, just on the plants being eaten the most.
  • I use this liquid castile soap or this natural liquid dish soap, just in case you were wondering (both are affiliate links).

homemade organic pest control spray recipe

5.0 from 2 reviews
Organic Pest Control Garden Spray Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Garden/DIY
Serves: 1 gallon
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups mint leaves OR 20 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap (or biodegradable liquid dish soap)
  • Water
Instructions
  1. Place the onion, garlic, peppermint, and cayenne in a blender, and pulverize it.
  2. Allow the mixture to soak/steep for a couple hours (optional, but do it if you can), then strain with a fine mesh strainer.
  3. Add the onion/garlic mixture to a one-gallon contain (an old milk jug or vinegar jug will work), add the soap, and enough water to make one gallon.
  4. Pour into a spray bottle and spritz on any plants being attacked by bugs.
  5. Spray 1-2 times per week, or after a heavy rain.

My Other Tricks for Naturally Battling Bugs

Homemade Liquid Fence Recipe

homemade liquid fence recipe

What do you say when your 5 year-old hands you a headless rabbit?

Yeah, I was tongue-tied too.

We were out working in the yard when I pointed out to Prairie Girl that her barn cat was carrying a freshly-caught bunny in its mouth.

A split-second later, I heard “Here, Mommy” and turned around to see her holding a decapitated rabbit by it’s hind legs.

Followed by, “Hang on, I’ll get the head too…

I stuttered for a minute before quickly explaining the rabbit was beyond the point of saving. Prairie Girl begrudgingly returned the bunny to the annoyed cat, and I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of my blonde-headed little girl wrestling a headless rabbit from the mouth of a hungry kitty. She seems to have inherited her mama’s strong stomach.

But that brings us to the topic of rabbits.

We have a rabbit epidemic…

It wasn’t so bad when we had our two athletic dogs, but ever since they passed away, the bunny population has sky-rocketed. Our remaining dogs (an old, fat one, and a big, slow one) just aren’t cutting it, and although the barn cats will grab one here and there, they still aren’t making a dent.

Truthfully, the rabbits wouldn’t bother me much if they would just stay away from my vegetables. We have a fence around the garden (hog panels plus chicken wire at the bottom), but I think they are still squeezing in somewhere.

And they have done a very thorough job of eating every.single.one of my cucumber plants down to the nubs.

I’m not impressed.

Because I want pickles.

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on rabbit repelling sprays, and versions of this liquid fence recipe get rave reviews. The key is to make it stinky… Very, very stinky.

So I mixed up a BIG batch and have been spraying it religiously.

Some folks say it works for deer too, but since we don’t have deer problems in our garden, I can’t vouch for that.

homemade liquid fence recipe

Homemade Liquid Fence® Recipe

Crack the eggs and combine them with the garlic and water in a bucket (use an old bucket you don’t mind getting icky).

Cover the mixture, and set it outside in the sun for 24-48 hours. Yup, that’s right. We want it to ferment and fester and get really, er… strong.

After it’s had time to get nice and smelly, strain out the garlic chunks, then mix in the soap and clove essential oil.

Place the mixture in a sprayer and spray generously around any area of your garden or yard that is being overtaken by rabbits.

I spray mine around the perimeter of my garden, in between the rows that are having the most problems (cucumbers!), and even on some of the plants.

Reapply after heavy rains or watering.

homemade liquid fence recipe

Notes:

  • WEAR GLOVES with you apply this stuff! It stinks like crazy and the garlic makes it hard to wash off your skin completely. It doesn’t burn or anything. It just stinks.
  • I use a garden sprayer for my liquid fence recipe. It makes the application process much easier, as compared to using a small spray bottle. Although, if a small sprayer is all you have, it’ll still work, your hand just might get tired.
  • As with any spray I might be using on my plants, I try to apply this in the evenings and avoid the heat of the day. Sometimes a spray, combined with the sun’s rays, can “burn” a plant’s leaves a bit. I haven’t had any problems thus far, but just FYI.
  • You can totally cut this recipe in half if you want to make a smaller amount.
  • I let my sprayer sit a few days before cleaning it, and the egg residue clogged it up a bit. It’s best to use a full batch and then clean everything out between uses, if possible.
  • Have old eggs or even slightly rotten ones? This is a great way to get rid of them! The stinkier, the better…
  • If you don’t have clove essential oil, you can add 10-15 whole cloves to your liquid fence recipe and allow it to steep with the garlic before straining. Or, just omit the cloves altogether.

4.7 from 3 reviews
Homemade Liquid Fence Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Garden DIY
 
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap
  • 10-20 drops clove essential oil -- optional
  • 1 gallon water
  • Pump sprayer
Instructions
  1. Crack the eggs and combine them with the garlic and water in a bucket (use an old bucket that you don't mind getting icky).
  2. Cover the mixture, and set it outside in the sun for 24-48 hours. Yup, that's right. We want it to ferment and fester and get really, er... strong.
  3. After it's had time to get nice and smelly, strain out the garlic chunks, then mix in the soap and clove essential oil.
  4. Place the mixture in a sprayer and spray generously around any area of your garden or yard that is being overtaken by rabbits.
  5. I spray mine around the perimeter of my garden, in between the rows that are having the most problems (cucumbers!), and even on some of the plants.
  6. Reapply after heavy rains or watering.