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 of blindness.

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 third.

 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 cornea.

 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


David Morley

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 bottles.

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.

Tools required

Stanley or other sharp knife.
A small piece of string.
A pencil or other pointed instrument to make a small hole in the plastic bottle.
A candle.

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 upwards.

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 is effective.

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