Better Flyswatting

Driven to his wits’ end one day in an otherwise wonderful anchorage, our friend Tim Schaaf decided to develop a better flyswatting technique.

In all seriousness, it works and has saved our sanity – not to mention a nights’ sleep – more than once.

A Better Flyswatting Technique: Plagued by flies? Forget about the fly paper that can catch your hair -- this one modification of your swatting technique will take care of the problem!Hold a regular flyswatter (one with a wire handle works best) in your dominant hand with your thumb along the handle.  Use your other hand to “cock” the business end of the flyswatter back and wait for one to land within range.  Release as you bring the flyswatter down.

The increased speed of the “swatter” results in a much higher hit rate – Tim, now owner/captain of the charter catamaran Jet Stream based in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, boasts over a 95% success rate!

Dave and I were a little skeptical when Tim first told us about this. But as our success rate with the “traditional” technique hovered near zero for me and only slightly higher for Dave, we were willing to try anything.

Imagine my surprise when I nailed all three of the flies I aimed for that evening!

Of course, you still have to “pick your shot” — where there is clear space to bring down the swatter flat on the surface. If I miss, it’s almost always because I took a bad shot where there wasn’t a sufficiently large flat surface to bring the swatter down on.

We’ve been doing this for over ten years now and it’s still effective. Just a couple of days ago we had our annual “fall fly-in” as we were having our hot water heater replaced. The installer — a friend of ours — was absolutely astonished at how quickly we got rid of them.

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  • Roland
    Posted at 26 September 2014 Reply

    When we bought our boat there was a really cool fly gun on board. It works well and is fun enough that I’ve given a few to friends. It’s available on Amazon:

  • Jim Shell
    Posted at 26 September 2014 Reply

    Bruce Bingham in “The Sailor’s Sketchbook” ( Seven Seas Press, 1983) describes a foolproof flycatching technique that does not entail squashing fly parts onto your boat surfaces. Fill a small glass to 1 1/2 inch of the top with water. Put a squirt of dishwashing liquid in the water and shake to make bubbles. With a slow, fluid motion bring the glass up under a fly that has lit on an overhead surface. The fly will drop into the bubbles and drown. Flies that are on overhead surfaces must drop down before they can fly and get caught in the soapy water. This works on all flies we have encountered on Phantom, even deer and horse flies. Flies seem to like lighting on overhead surfaces. We sometimes encourage them there by gently waving them off other surfaces that are not overhead. Be patient, but them swatting them requires patience as well. We never have fly problems for long.

    For mosquitoes, we use a battery powered “dust buster” style vacuum to vac them up. After dark we turn the lights down or off and use a small flashlight to locate the mosquitoes on the overhead. Sneak up on them with the vacuum and suck them up. They don’t seem to be able to escape the vacuum dust bin. It takes a few turns around the boat to get them all, but it is worth the effort.

  • Carol Watson
    Posted at 26 September 2014 Reply

    Been doing this for years. Our biggest problem is becoming spiders, any suggestions on how to get rid of/discourage them?

    • Chris&Janet
      Posted at 26 September 2014 Reply

      Spiders are repelled by (pepper)mint. We dry the leaves and put them in tule bags and place the bags in the likely places.

    • Paul Schroder
      Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

      Ortho home defense works great and has a long lasting residual affect. We use this on the exterior of the boat too and the spiders have vanished!

  • Pickett Huffines
    Posted at 26 September 2014 Reply

    Thank you for this hint! Love all of your tips, especially about the grungier side of life on a boat (or in my case in a truck). Your hints on garbage and cooking have proven invaluable. Thank you.

  • "Sub" Ed T.
    Posted at 26 September 2014 Reply

    After learning the proper technique, I can take a fly out at close to 6 yards using on a Staples #33 Rubber band, Kill rate is close to 100%

  • Michael Guelker-Cone
    Posted at 26 February 2016 Reply

    Okay, this is getting weird but I learned, I think, long ago that on take-off flies move slightly in reverse before going forward. I have always had great luck killing the little buggers by hitting them slightly from behind. Anyone else ever heard of this or is it my old age creeping in? Either way, I have had good luck.

  • Becky
    Posted at 26 February 2016 Reply

    If you have enough battery, they make a zapper that uses a “cigarette lighter” plug in. (12 v.) They also make pads soaked in a mosquito attractant to put on those units. The heat activates the scent, the light attracts lots of flying bugs, and the zapper gets ’em.. (Camping sections?)

  • Ricardo Druillet
    Posted at 26 February 2016 Reply

    At least somebody find what “W” was useful for

  • Candy Ann Williams
    Posted at 26 February 2016 Reply

    This works!

    Posted at 26 February 2016 Reply

    We seem to have a lot of the kelp flies and they’re slow.

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