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Dealing with Pesky Deer Flies

July 26th, 2013

The deer flies have been TERRIBLE around here this year. Last week I worked in the garden one evening, when I came inside I had been bitten 6 times. One of the bites was on my eyelid. When I woke up the next morning my eye was pretty much swollen shut. The funny thing is that I also had a bite on my cheek on the same side, which was also swollen up about the size of a macaroon. That’s when I searched to find something that might work against them. I came across this post explaining how to build a deer fly trap.
Deer Fly Trap 1
I ordered up the supplies I needed: Tanglefoot Tangle-Trap Brush On Sticky Trap Coating and Blue Plastic Cups. Yes the cup needs to be blue!
Deer Fly Trap 3
All you do is brush the sticky coating on the blue cup and you pin them to your hat. Really, it’s that simple. At first I was worried that it would catch other flying insects as well, like bees, thankfully that didn’t happen.
Deer Fly Trap 2
Our first test of our hats was a trip down to the mailbox, which generally ended with us running back up the hill swatting the swarms of deer flies that were chasing us. Mr Chiots arrived at the house with 9 stuck to his cup and I had 5 stuck to mine. We wore them the entire next day and didn’t notice a deer fly all day. That evening the final count was: 13 deer flies on Mr Chiot’s hat and 9 on mine. They work like a charm.

What’s the biggest garden pest for you, the gardener?

21 Comments to “Dealing with Pesky Deer Flies”
  1. kathi Cook on July 26, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Haha! That is a hilarious and clever solution to deer flies. In CT we had a bumper crop of mosquitoes this summer. Usually they ignore me and go right to work biting my husband, but this year they must have been desperate because I was fair game. Every time we tried to eat out on the deck, we were chased inside. Thankfully the worst has passed now. Those deer flies sound awful. Hope they leave soon.

    Reply to kathi Cook's comment

    • Susy on July 26, 2013 at 7:34 am

      Same here, the mosquitoes leave me alone and LOVE Mr Chiots.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Rocky on July 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

        Ha ha, mosquitoes female are no different. They love male! As yo may know already, only female mosquitoes are blood-eating pests.

        to Rocky's comment

  2. Lisa Sewell on July 26, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I love this! I too live in Maine and agree that deer flies make spending time outside difficult. However, they do motivate me when running on the logging roads in my town! My average pace is always a little better when they are chasing me!

    Reply to Lisa Sewell's comment

  3. Jodiana on July 26, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I love this! My neighbors already think I wear a tinfoil hat so this shouldn’t faze them a bit! LOL

    Reply to Jodiana's comment

    • Susy on July 26, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Yes, it definitely will make the neighbors look (one benefit to us living far off the beaten path). It works so well we want to make one for the dog.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Nebraska Dave on July 26, 2013 at 8:22 am

    The biggest pests for the garden are not flying biting insects but the night time critters that think my garden is the greatest buffet for them. Chiggers are a big issue for some folks. Mosquitos are around this year but they just don’t seem to like this tough skinned old geezer. I haven’t seen them this year but last year we were plagued with itsy bitsy little nats that were so small they could crawl through screen on the window. They didn’t bite but groups of them could be very annoying. It’s pretty humorous about the blue cup method of dealing with deer flies. We have horse flies here in Nebraska which you mentioned was a close cousin to the deer flies in your podcast. I’ve been bitten by horse flies but never did it swell up like your face did. How long did it take for the swelling to go down?

    Have a great Maine blue cup on the head day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  5. PennyAshevilleNC on July 26, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Mosquitoes. I am always eaten… I remember Brian saying something about vitamin B? I’ve taken B complex for years and I am still a buffet. My best defense is a long sleeve cotton t and repellent on my ankles. I’m lucky not to have deer floes I think though- neat solution.

    Reply to PennyAshevilleNC's comment

  6. Lemongrass on July 26, 2013 at 9:07 am

    mosquitoes, especially toward the end of the day. i read somewhere that lemongrass keeps them away. since i have tons of it, i have been making lemongrass bundles…………a bunch of lemongrass tied with some knitting yarn and i hang them all over the house,for those that come in looking for blood. am now able to read undisturber at nights.
    thank goodness we do not have deer flies here in the tropics, we do have sandflies. the trap might work for them.

    Reply to Lemongrass's comment

  7. Mich on July 26, 2013 at 9:22 am

    The horse flies have been really bad this year. I use a shower gel with a citronella content and a dry oil spray that seems to work.. My horse needs a blue hat, the flies seem to love him extra special apparently they like the colour chestnut.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  8. Canned Quilter on July 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Here in Missouri we have not only deer flies but these tiny blood sucking gnats called buffalo gnats or turkey gnats. I seem to be allergic and they swell me terribly. The good news is that they only occur once a year and usually only are around for a few weeks. After 16 years of living here I have yet to find a repellant that works. They kill small livestock such as baby chickens and turkeys. Will definitely try this for the deer flies though.
    Thank You!

    Reply to Canned Quilter's comment

    • Ravyn2006 on June 12, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      Look for a product called Buggins natural spray. The vanilla, mint, rose blend works wonders on buffalo gnats. If that doesn’t work look for VBS insect repellent. The Vanilla seems to be the key ingredient that works on those nasty gnats. I used to work for a sporting goods store and nothing we sold worked, but just cheap vanilla body spray worked.

      Reply to Ravyn2006's comment

  9. amy on July 26, 2013 at 11:29 am

    What a hoot! I bet you all look a treat…..but the old adage rings true…..A girl/guy has gotta do what a girl/guy has gotta do!… matter how ridiculous;) As for the biggest pest……definitely definitely Mosquitoes! We have lots of water here and they are everywhere…..A Misery!

    Reply to amy's comment

  10. Rocky on July 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Black flies! They are the worst of the worst. I can stand them biting my skin, but I just can’t stand them flying into my ears, eyes, nostrils, and open mouth. However, one good thing about them is that if you have black flies where you live, then you know water pollution is not likely to be much problem in your area. The larval forms of black flies live and develop only in clean running water. They are among the insect known for the susceptibility to water pollution.

    Reply to Rocky's comment

  11. AGinPA on July 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    You might be able to do something similar but without the blue cup. My parents spend every summer in the Adirondacks and also have trouble with deer flies. They use sticky strips on their hats that have the same effect, without worrying about the cups getting knocked off. You can buy the strips or you could just put a strip of wide tape on a a hat and put the tanglefoot on that. My parents said deerflies like to land at the highest point before choosing where to bite and that’s why it works.

    Reply to AGinPA's comment

    • Susy on July 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      We have seen these sticky strips, I might try them next year.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Marie Carlson on July 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Ok, so we currently live in CA and of course insects are present but we are not even close to being bothered like this. We spent a lot of time outside. I want to move to the northeast area but you are scaring me a little there! Is it that bad for just a little while or all summer long?

    Reply to Marie Carlson's comment

    • Susy on July 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      It’s just for a short season, I think the deer flies are nearing their end.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Brenna on July 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Alaska had a bumper crop of mosquitoes this year, no amount of bug dope or spray kept them off! I spent the entire month of June an itchy mess. Luckily the dragonflies showed up a few weeks ago and the mosquito population has plummeted!

    Reply to Brenna's comment

  14. Wendy on July 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Just call it a party and they can be your birthday hats!

    Happy Birthday, Sus!


    Reply to Wendy's comment

  15. gail eichelberger on June 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Mosquitoes make working in the garden a nightmare….all day long. I have to suit up with long sleeves and pants that are dosed with OFF. Wish the blue hat worked for them.

    Reply to gail eichelberger's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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