When I was a kid, I had a range of pets—mostly reptiles and amphibians; no surprise there. To feed my frogs, toads and lizards, I either snuck around the garden with a large aquarium dipnet and trapped flies (which were on our dog’s poop), or I trapped them with a more passive technique.

    Today (February 12, 2021) I answered an email about yet another brown anole (Anolis sagrei) that had arrived on some tropical plants, this time at a Canadian Tire outlet in Duncan, BC.

    The anole’s new owners are going to set up a terrarium for this little lizard, and why not. They are charming terrarium inhabitants. I gave the owners advice on how to feed and water the lizard, and I decided to detail the trap I made as a kid so they could harvest flies as free food for their new pet.

    Here was my trap, made from household items that, when I was a kid, went in the trash (this was pre-recycling).

    1) Cut a pop bottle in half and recycle the cap.

    2) Cut slots in the top half of the bottle so it fits inside the lower half of the bottle.

    3) Cut a hole in the bottom of the bottle (here the hole is in one of the nubbins—corrugations—at the bottom). Flies will find their way in, but when you come to pick up the trap, they likely will not find this hole and will fly upwards.

    4) Bait the trap and put the bottom halves together.

    5) Tape a parmesan cheese container over the top. Why I use a parmesan cheese container will be explained in a second.

    6) Wait.

    7) When flies have entered, pick up the entire apparatus and use your thumb to prevent escape out the hole in the corugation.

    8) Flies likely will go up and into the parmesan jar when they are disturbed.

    9) Remove the tape carefully, and in one smooth motion, lift the parmesan container and screw its cap (this one is red) in place. Bugs will be nicely contained.

    10) Now you can simply place the container in your terrarium with the lid open (this is why I used the parmesan container—it has a convenient flap to open, with fly-sized openings). If you are worried about flies escaping before you close the terrarium, then put the parmesan container in the fridge to cool the flies. Then once flies are cool, put the container in the aquarium and let the flies warm up—and watch your pets devour their dipteran dinner.

    Dr. Gavin Hanke

    Natural History

    Curator of Vertebrate Zoology

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