Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fighting Flies in the Coop

We had the freakest storm a couple days ago.  One storm came from the west (missed us).  Another storm came from the north (also missed us).  Then BOOM!  They collided and hit us full force from the east.  With no warning. Unbelievable wind and rain, we couldn't even see anything from the windows and the walls in the dining room were vibrating.  Scary shit, I'm tellin' ya.  The storm caught the shingles on the edge of the second story and just rolled it all back like a big, weird looking rug.  It also pulled a skylight right out of the roof and rain poured into the bedroom. (Excuse me while I go bawl a bit.)

Thank God for neighbors and a friend that dropped what they were doing and headed to our place.  The guys got tarps, lumber. etc, and 3 hours later the damaged roof area was all covered.  They worked really hard, as fast as they could while we all watched the black clouds building up in the northern sky.  It was just starting to rain again as they climbed down the ladder.

So yesterday we decided we were too old and tired to be shingling again and called a local roofing company.  We didn't do much in the way of cleanup outside because of the 100+ degree weather but hit it this morning.

Okay, how does the coop come into this story?  The day of the storm I thought I should clean the coop.   I left the door open to air it out a bit.  But I didn't get back to it.  As I said, the storm hit us so fast that there was no way I could get out there to close the EAST facing door of the coop.  Argh.  Yesterday I surveyed the coop floor, decided to again leave the door open to see if the floor would dry out before I cleaned it.  Big mistake.

So this morning when I opened the coop door...well, it wasn't pleasant.   All that straw on the floor along with the poo?  It was still wet underneath.  Duh.  It smelled like a feedlot in there.  Plus now there are 100 flies in there, too.  And here I used to think that I had the cleanest coop in the county.

Damage control time.
I got a big trash can and the shit shovel.  I scooped up all the wet crud and put down a thin layer of Stall Dry over the wet plywood.  Yes, I left the door open, but I am a little paranoid about it.  High heat again today plus all the extra humidity makes me wonder if a fan would even help much.

The entire time I'm scooping straw/poo, there is buzzzzzzing from the gazillion flies.  Ahaa!  Fly strips!  Milk jug traps!  Of course, I have to make 'em.  And I'm impatient.  So I cut some strips from a manilla folder, couldn't locate the hole punch, but a stiff ink pen worked pretty good to make holes, and located the string without too much effort.  Now there's no way I'm going to use honey ($7 for a little bottle) or real maple syrup (also $7 for a little bottle), so I grabbed the el cheapo pancake syrup and added some white sugar to it.  I painted the sugar goo on each side of the strips and headed out to the coop.  After I tied the strips around the joint, I noticed that although there were no flies on the first strips, there were 5 flies on the white cottage cheese container that I had used to mix the stuff and carry the strips to the coop.

Back to the house.  I grabbed a gallon milk jug from the recycle tub, drilled some holes (there was a Phillips head bit in the drill so it worked pretty good), then made the holes a little bigger using a fat ink pen.  For the bait, I used a mixture of one inch of water in the milk jug, added 1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar plus a shot of white corn syrup (I'm running low-ish on sugar or I would have used that).  I found the lid for the milk jug in the trash and headed for the coop.

There was actually 3 flies on one strip, just one was stuck, and a fly on another strip.  Had I actually soaked the strips overnight I'm sure they'd be better.

I just checked the coop again.  After about one hour, there are NO stuck flies on the strips but there are actually 5 or 6 flies in the milk jug.  The heat expansion is causing the holes to shrink so I might have to make them a bit larger. 

The next plan of attack:
I have a bit of lunchmeat that's getting a bit 'iffy' so that's going to go into the next milk jug fly trap.
I also have a couple of those vanilla pine tree air fresheners.  Some people at http://backyardchickens.com/ swear you'll control the fly population in your coop by hanging them in there.


and a couple links about making milk jug traps:  http://www.ehow.com/how_8651716_make-homemade-fly-attractant-solution.html and http://www.ehow.com/how_5144479_make-fly-traps-milk-jugs.html

Update the following day:  Wahoo!  I just came in from the coop and wowzer, it smelled so nice!  Like vanilla and dry coop, ya know?  Really cool thing is that there were a total of two (that's 2) flies in there!!  So I put down some clean pine shavings and checked the fly traps.  Nothing on the strips.  I wonder how well they might have worked had I followed the directions.  The same 5 or 6 flies in the milk jug trap, now dead or playing possum.
The verdict?  It had to be the pine tree shaped vanilla air freshener that chased all those flies out.  Definately easier and faster than making traps and strips.  I did leave the milk jug trap in the coop as it won't be long before the air freshener loses it's uumph and it won't be effective any more. If I have lingering flies after that, maybe the milk jug trap will be enough.