A yellow index card covered with engine oil makes a great sticky trap.

Generations of gardeners have been using yellow sticky traps to catch unwanted flying insects. Think back to the yellow fly tape Grandma used to hang near her fuchsias. Yellow, it seems, is just irresistible to pest insects! Indoors, on our houseplants, that would include shoreflies, fungus gnats and whiteflies.

Of course, you can find commercial yellow sticky traps in just about any garden center, but if you’re in a do-it-yourself mood, you can also make your own.

Look for Yellow

Paint sample cards make good sticky traps.

Just about any yellow object will do. A paint sample card will work, as will a yellow index card. Maybe you have a yellow Frisbee that is no longer being used, or a yellow cup or plate. Even a yellow margarine tub will do. Or paint a piece of wood, maybe a paint stir stick, yellow.


Now you need a sticky substance that stays sticky. Heavy engine oil will work, as will Vaseline, honey, or a non-drying glue. (Tanglefoot is one such glue gardeners may already have on hand.)

Just apply the sticky substance to your yellow object and place it among your houseplants. You’d be surprised how quickly insects will end up trapped on it.

As your trap starts becoming covered with insects, just clean it off and apply more of the sticky product you chose. That way you can use your sticky trap again and again.20161104a

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

14 comments on “A Homemade Sticky Trap

  1. Kristen Oberhauser Bishop

    I wish I didn’t need to see an ad for political t shirts while looking for gardening advice. I have had enough with the whole Left – Right stupidity. Those tshirts have NOTHING to do with gardening. I was hoping to glaen ideas from fellow a gardener and ran right up against the type of thing that is dividing us. I own guns, but I think those type of tshirts are stupid since they arguments they use fallacies. I also think that people are all about rights and ignore that they come with responsibilities.We treat guns like they are toys. But I own them, so both sides get mad at me.

    Please consider having ads that are related to gardens. You will get more people responding to them because 99% of us want to garden and need gardening products. The people that want to wear politically provocative tshirts are a much lower percentile here. They can go on the blogs that are political and find those ads there. You would make more money from gardening ads.This is the type of place where people from all stripes TALK with each other and we need more of that in this country. . The reasons to switch are good.

    Your blog is otherwise useful. I tried using molasses for the homemade tangle traps, so molasses will not substitute for honey. We have deer and horseflies and the goats and I are getting attacked. I am going to use blue cups hanging like a mobile so they move and the color and motion attract the flies. I sent my husband out for tangletree, so hopefully I will get them up today. I am going to make cucumber beetle traps too because they found my squash seedlings. Sigh. Tip- I have a patch of pineapple tomatillos that come back every year from deep roots (and I live in Maine). Those cucumber beetles love these plants more than anything else. I know there is a way to use it as a trap . I find cucumber beetle and flea beetle to be the 2 hardest to eradicate.

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  10. Honey and Vaseline do not work for my fungus gnats. They walk on it and then fly away.

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