If your pet collection includes reptiles or amphibians (herps), then your house probably contains a variety of live feeder insects. Most common are mealworms and crickets, as they can readily be purchased at most pet stores. For smaller herps, however, I like to supplement their diets with houseflies. It helps ensure a more nutritious diet, and frogs and small lizards eat them up – literally. Here are some tips to make catching flies to feed your reptiles and amphibians easy and fun.
The Butterfly Net Method for Catching Flies Outside
When catching flies outside I use a butterfly net. You just need to be sure the surface the fly has landed on is bigger than the circumference of your net. Otherwise the fly will escape through the opening, even if it’s just a tiny gap. It may take a little practice, but before long you’ll be a pro.
- Once you have a fly trapped in the net, use one hand to apply pressure to the rim so that it stays firmly against the surface.
- With the other hand, corral the fly to the very tip of the net’s end.
- Now, about two inches further down from the fly, pinch the net shut and twist. You should now have a small two inch section of the net that is twisted apart from the rest, with your fly in the contained portion. At this point you no longer need to anchor the rim, so you have two hands to work with.
- Next, hold the net together just above the twisted spot with one hand, while untwisting it. (You are now holding the fly in by simply pinching the net together.) Place your other hand (and arm) inside the net and gently let go of a tiny bit of the pinched portion, allowing just enough free space to insert your fingers (from the second hand) and grab the fly. (Do this one at a time if you happened to catch more than one fly.)
- Firmly hold the fly’s abdomen between your thumb and forefinger, making sure the wings are free on top. With your second hand and a small pair of sharp scissors, cut both wings about half way off. Doing this will ensure that the flies remain accessible to your herps since they will not be able to fly.
The “Snapping Towel” Method for Catching Flies Inside
When inside the house I use the locker room “towel snap” method for catching flies. This takes a lot more practice and finesse that the butterfly net method. (I have found it comes in handy even if you don’t have herps to feed.)
- Get a dish towel and, holding one end still, twist the other end until it will not twist anymore.
- Let go of the still end, and very quickly, before the towel untwists itself, snap the fly. This will take a lot of practice, but once you discover just the right technique, it works quite well. This stuns the fly, but does not crush or kill it. It is also gentle enough that you shouldn’t break anything in the house.
- Pick up the fly, and repeat Step 5 above.
One of the benefits of catching flies to feed your reptiles and amphibians is that they contain a different set of vitamins and minerals than farm raised crickets and mealworms. The same holds true for other wild caught insects such as grasshoppers, moths and grubs. However, we also run the risk that they may have been exposed to insecticides or herbicides prior to being caught. If this is the case, we could sicken or kill our herps. Due to this risk, it’s important to consider your surroundings and only feed wild caught insects when the pesticide risk in that area is very low.