Flytrap Gimmicks
"A Trail of Kindness or a Scar of Discontent?"

I have hesitated to write this. "We've got our own boat to paddle," my father often said, "Let them paddle theirs. There is the danger that your sincere concern for truth might appear to be sour grapes." However, it is also said that, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."*  I hope I haven't waited too long to set out on this trail. - David Gilbert

What follows are my personal opinions based on my own experience and testing. My hope is to give science a toehold in this field.

The professional flytrap industry is a young, abused child of a science, continually harmed by half-baked sales schemes for one gimmick or another: false and misleading claims for super special lamps; ultra-hyped circuitry; outrageous, meaningless control ranges; and on and on.

Outrageous, meaningless control ranges are almost as old as insect light traps themselves. Claims that small light traps will control a quarter acre outdoor area have been made since the 1960s, perhaps longer. Published sq. ft. coverage areas for ILTs should be tossed in the trash bin. I believe they are made up out of thin air by clueless marketing departments.

"What's the control range for your traps?" It seems like a logical question. Many expect a simple , straightforward answer. There isn't one. If your facility is located next to a cattle yard, you're going to need more ILTs per sq. ft. Visual range and nature of response varies by species. Also, competitiveness leads to exaggeration. We put forth a general rule of thumb: place our traps about 40 feet apart, but that will vary with a number of factors. The 40 ft. recommendation is for larger traps in large areas. Smaller traps, like our Flying VenusTM won't control flies so well at that spacing. And, our small traps outcatch many of the traps marketed as covering extremely large sq. ft. areas. (See "Strategic Installation").


As a result of misleading claims, some major companies end up paying extra for nothing: two to three times more for BLB lamps, for example, when the best insect attractant lamp is a standard BL (blacklight) phosphor.

The BLB (blacklight blue) claim came packaged with yet another claim for special circuitry, ultra-hyped as advanced design when it was, in reality, nothing more than two ballasts hooked-up to lamps designed for one. The resulting flytraps did out-catch competitors for about two weeks. Then the lamps continued to be overdriven into premature old age. "Led the field" since when? Perhaps, the correct word is "misled"?


1n the 1990's, there were claims from a European company that they had a revolutionary new green lamp that was superior to standard BL lamps. When I contacted the university where the research was done and asked exactly what lamp the green lamp was tested against and how, the only response I got was, "Oh, that's that company down the road." Maybe, someone else can explain this to me? Neither the researcher(s), nor the green lamp research paper that was proudly handed out at the Pest Management exhibition seem to. Here's our green lamp research.


A decade or so ago, a company introduced a new flytrap along with three claims:

1) They called their trap "revolutionary", said it was an "electronic" flytrap that featured "revolutionary" stunning circuitry. I suggest you try plugging-in two of the "revolutionary" electronic stunning flytraps next to each other, disconnect the "revolutionary" electronic stunning grid on one of the units, and see if you can find any significant difference.

2) This "revolutionary technology" came packaged with a second claim, that these new traps were so tight with a bug that they could be placed directly over open food and on top of salad bars. That claim was eventually shot down, but continues to crawl around in mutant forms (i.e. in mail-order catalogs) and the traps remain in use, where more effective, professional traps should be.

3) These claims for this "new technology" were combined with accusations against the existing technology. Insect electrocuting light traps were claimed to "explode" flies. With these "Chicken Little", flies are exploding claims, are they not employing the very same tactics against electrocuters that the EPA has been accused of using against pest control chemicals? Where is the non-biased scientific discussion? Look closely at the research they imply backs up their claims. Does it justify their actions?

They went around the country with a slide show, presenting their "exploding flies" philosophy to group after group, even convincing some inspectors, despite questionable test procedures and exaggeration. They have repeated this stuff over and over for years, until now you hear it repeated by people you thought would know better. Have they accomplished what they set out to do? Have they positioned themselves as "experts" in the field?

Did they invent something new? Don Gilbert patented a glueboard flytrap in 1972. What did they invent? What have they put forth ... weak trap designs, misleading exaggeration?

USDA researcher Dr. Donald E. Weidhass, R.P.E., found "no fly body parts or evidence of contamination away from the traps" in his tests.


For nearly a decade, another company has been leading customers into relying on only one, inadequate, wall sconce flytrap design. They charge rent for it as if they actually knew what they were doing. Our 2000GT and 2002GT wall sconce flytraps also go undetected (as a flytrap) in public areas (like restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, and hospitals). In fact, they excel at it and out-catch their trap, but I would never tell anyone that all they need consider is one small trap design. That would be misleading.

In one of the few large bids issued, trap manufacturers were asked to decide which traps to bid in each of 3 categories, a large, medium and small. The Brand "X" "medium" trap that won the bid costs more and traps less (81% to 19% in side by side tests) than our "small" trap. Be sure you're comparing apples to apples.


I can find no use for peanut scented glueboards nor glueboards with pictures of flies in feeding positions. Pheromones can be useful in searching for a particular species. Consider keeping pheromone traps separate from light traps, so you can tell which attractant is responsible for catching which particular insects?


UV lamp meters are of limited value. Do not overestimate the value of light meters; especially cheap, little ones. If properly used (and that's the crux of the matter), they can distinguish an old lamp from a new one, but "if" and only "if" comparing the exact same brand and model of lamp, and extreme care is taken in using them properly. Instructions are lacking in this regard. They could easily be misused by a less than honest PMP or an honest one who is not extremely careful and, perhaps, even then.

METERS ARE NOT FLIES! They cannot evaluate trap designs, the comparative effectiveness of different lamps, or shatter-proof coatings. Only good, honest research with insects can do that. Seen any?


A few years ago, there were claims for light traps with glowing plastic outer cases. Do you really want to attract flies to the outside of your trap or do you want them attracted inside where you catch them? I don't find any increase in effectiveness or benefit at all. Perhaps, decorative? Perhaps, it's an effective sales gimmick?


Anothert unsubstantiated claim is for 50% more attraction than the standard lamp for a European insect attractant lamp that peaks at 365nm? 50% of what? What are you calling the standard lamp, the old European lamp? Show us the research.


And, most every trap manufacturer claims to out-catch all the others. Be skeptical. Always ask for the research that backs up any claims. Plug flytraps in side-by-side and see for yourself which traps out-catch the others. Then, consider doing business with people who have been promoting flytraps as science for 30 years, striving to improve the profession, helping you solve problems. Send us a copy of any research you find.


Challenge me. Help me fill in the blanks.

Let's build a science...
worthy of a profession.

- David Gilbert


"Our critics are our friends because they show us our faults."
- President Bill Clinton (in China) quoting Benjamin Franklin


* Edmund Burke (1729-1797). Attributed. British statesman, political writer.

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