TALC Fly Trap
Simple, cheap, plastic bottles & cow dung/urine
captures flies, reudces trachoma blindness 30%.
Simple, Cheap Fly trap cuts blindness
A cheap trap made from plastic pop bottles and dung has
significantly cut the number of cases of trachoma - a major cause
Trachoma affects approximately 14m people world-wide, mainly in
developing countries. It is thought to be spread from person to
person by the thousands of flies which swarm in certain regions.
In Africa's Rift Valley, for example, there could be as many as
32,000 flies gathered in just one house.
Professor David Morley developed a fly trap which can be built
simply from two transparent plastic bottles, based on his
observation that flies, following feeding, tend to fly upwards
towards the light.
The lower bottle is plastered with mud to make it dark
inside, and then filled with a mixture of goat droppings and cow
urine - guaranteed to prove irresistible to flies.
After a fine meal, the flies pass up a plastic tube into a second
bottle, left transparent to lure them. Here they die from
exhaustion and exposure to UV light.
The bottle went on trial in 300 Masai homes in Kenya over a year.
The fly population was reduced by an estimated 40%, and more
importantly, the number of trachoma cases fell by more than a
Professor Morley told New Scientist magazine: "Local
children have been making the traps at school - the teacher made
it part of the homework."
Trachoma is the leading single cause of preventable blindness in
the world. It is caused not by just one infection, but the legacy
of repeated infections over the years.
These cause inflammation on each occasion, and eventually the
cumulative damage causes the eyelid to tighten and bend in on
itself, prodding the eye with its own lashes and scarring the
Infections respond well in general to antibiotics, although
there are concerns that the bacteria which cause the disease may
be becoming resistant to drugs.
Other techniques involve a simple 10-minute operation which turns
the eyelid back round...
The TALC Fly Trap
The concept behind this fly trap is to construct it as simply as
possible using material that is junk. It is particularly hoped
that this may be a way of using discarded pop and drinking water
The TALC Fly TrapMaterials required
Two preferably identical clear plastic bottles. The larger the
better, they can be smooth or corrugated. One of the bottles
should still have its screw top.
One smaller plastic bottle, this should be smooth plastic.
A small quantity of black or dark paint.
Stanley or other sharp knife.
A small piece of string.
A pencil or other pointed instrument to make a small hole in the
Method of assembly
One of the bottles is the bait bottle the other is the trap bottle
the smaller bottle is used to cut out the trap tube.
The Bait bottle
If the paint is very thick it may need diluting. Pour the
equivalent of a tablespoon of paint into this bottle, if possible
do not let it run down the side; roll the bottle so that the lower
third is painted on the inside. Leave it to dry.
The Trap bottle
Cut the bottom out of this. Make the cut just below where the
bottle tapers into the base. Now make 8 slits upwards from where
the base has been cut off. If the lower end of the bottle is
corrugated, make the slits in the valleys. It should now be
possible to push the trap bottle over the top of the trap bottle
and make a tight fit. If at a later stage the splits in the side
you have cut tend to tear further upwards this can be prevented by
gluing small squares of plastic. Alternatively a ring of plastic
is cut obliquely from another bottle of the same size, this can
then be slipped over the bottle to prevent the cuts spreading
If the flytrap is to be hung introduce a small piece of string
under the screw top, screwing the top on tightly.
The Trap Tube
This is a piece of plastic cut from the body of the smaller
bottle. Cut a piece of bottle 8 cms by 8 cms. Cut small slits in
the bottom and bend these out as shown in the diagram. Now roll it
around a pencil, wrap a piece of string around it and place it in
hot water (three-quarters boiling one-quarter cold.) Remove the
string, it should keep its shape. Make a hole in the screw top as
follows. Hold it over a candle, the plastic will darken and
soften. Push a pencil through and enlarge the hole. Push your tube
up and through this hole and the frill you cut should now be
pinched between the bottle top and the cap when it is screwed on
to the bait bottle.
The Bait bottle
The paint in this should now be dry. Cut two half circles half way
down the painted part at opposite sides of the bottle, the curve
of the circle should be upwards, now bend the flap produced
outwards and force them down so that they remain open. These are
the entry ports for the flies, as well as putting bait in the
bottom of the bait bottle put some on these turned down flaps to
attract the flies.
The Fly Bait
Various baits have been used. Chicken entrails seem satisfactory
but tend to dry up. Apparently flies like the smell produced by
placing 250 gms of yeast in a litre of water and after two days
adding 6 grams of Ammonium Carbonate (available from garden
centres). Amongst the Maasai a mixture of goat dung and cows urine
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