Electric flytrap lantern

Back in 2001, the house we were living in was plagued with moths. There was always a swarm of them around the porch light, and every time you opened the door a small flock would make their way inside the house. Annoying.

Fly zappers are great, but the smell of barbecued moths is terrible. So, I got working on a better solution.

Instead of zapping moths, this flytrap works like a big vacuum. To make it, I used an old kerosene lantern. The glass globe and wick holder have been removed.

What I like most about this project is that the lantern’s original design is very well preserved. As a light fixture it doesn’t look half bad; in the dark, the stuff underneath is obscured by shadows. I guess what I’m trying to say is… I dont know of any other flytraps that could pass for porch lights.

Moths fly toward the light bulb, which is strategically placed over the air intake. To increase the suction, I used the top of a plastic 2-liter bottle. To make the bottle fit into the opening in the bottom of the lantern, I made a neck from a rectangular strip of the bottle plastic and superglued it together. The neck sits where the wick holder used to be.

In this photo you can see a black and white wire coming out the fuel cap; those go to the fan, which is located inside the fuel tank of the lantern.

The fan came from an old microwave that someone was throwing out. There are a lot of useful parts in old microwaves, but I digress. The fan moves quite a lot of air, sucking in all manner of winged insects.

To get the fan in there, I cut the bottom off the lantern. Then I mounted the fan to an aluminum plate and attached the plate to the lantern with sheet metal screws.


To increase the airflow, I had to put together a makeshift fan shroud… a strip of aluminum flashing does the job. You can see it sticking out the bottom of the lantern here.

To complete the trap, I used a plastic mesh attached to the bottom of a bleach jug. This makes the trap easy to clean — you just dump it out (mesh alone would be messy). In this picture, I’m about to dump out about a week’s worth of bugs.

Inevitably, some spiders will find their way into the bag during daylight hours and eat like kings… lounging in a magical world where food falls from the sky (reminiscent of when it rains donuts on Homer in the Simpsons’ “Treehouse Of Horror V”).

The effectiveness of this thing is amazing. The fan runs quietly, especially compared to the sound of crickets. Only on rare occasions do moths end up in the house instead of the mesh bag. Its also mesmerising to watch (insert “it sucks you in” joke…).

I have a smaller version of this in the works for catching flies inside the house. I’ll post pictures when i have them.