This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Fighting fruitflies: Lemon juice vs. fly paper

This week I’ve decided to take a break from deep questions of theology and discipleship to look at a practical problem that concerns all of us. Our subject for today’s episode Simple, Sticky Solutions to Scullery Stumpers is the dreaded fruit fly. I’m sure this problem is one that will be of concern to all of you who tend to accumulate fruit cakes over the holidays. As a bonus, our experiment will also answer the age old question of home remedy vs. store bought solution.

Our particular fruit fly infestation is not the result of fruit cake, but rather of a combination of compost bucket and vermiculture bin. A friend of ours suggested lemon juice in a lid as a solution, so I decided to put this organic, non-toxic solution up against the popular insect oriented adhesive from the local hardwards store:

Lemon Juice vs. Fly Paper

In order to create an optimal testing environment, I put both traps precisely equidistant from the insect nesting grounds (aka the compost bucket) and set both traps simultaneously. I then waited for five days and recorded the total number of insects caught. During that time I replenished the lemon juice resevoir 3 times. No glue replenishment was necessary.

Before I announce the results, it’s important to put this question in perspective. This experiment is not just about what catches flies better. It connects us with the deeper questions of our age: Modernity vs. Tradition. Organic vs. Chemical. Insect vs. Human.

Drum roll please.

Number of Flies Caught
Fly Paper 28
Lemon Juice 10

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The sticky fly paper wins the day, snagging nearly 3 times as many flies over the same period of time. Let’s hear a round of applause for chemical adhesive!

For all of you lemon juice fans out there, take heart. 10 flies are better than none. And given the $.09 cents the lemon juice cost, you’re only paying $.01 per fly caught. That’s much more cost effective then the fly trap which I’m sure is far more expensive, though I can’t tell you for sure because I lost the receipt.

Tim Nafziger is passionate about gathering people with shared values to work together for change in our communities and our world. One such space is Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) where he works as interim assistant director. Tim lives with his wife Charletta in the Ojai Valley in southern California where they connect with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministires. Tim has written chapters in Widening the Circle: Experiments in Christian Discipleship; Fear or Freedom?: Why a Warring Church Must Change; and 118 Days: Christian Peacemaker Teams Held Hostage in Iraq. His photo portfolio is at You can follow Tim on Twitter at @tim_nafziger

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