Making your own glue traps

Years ago when I first started in my pest control career, I had to make my own glue boards. It was sort of like when I was a short order cook, things were pretty sloppy until I got the hang of it. You didn’t want a sandwich from me. I’d mash it, put 2 tons of mayonnaise on it, tear the bread and just really made a mess. Good thing I switched careers.

Now days of course you can buy all sorts of sticky traps to catch just about anything; roaches, mice, white flies, rats, spiders and the list goes on and on. So why make them? Well in today’s economy you may find it cheaper and you can also custom make your traps to fit your unique situation.

First let’s talk about what kind of glue to get. Anything that dries of course is out of the question so put the Elmer’s back in the drawer. Several brands of glue are available such as Tangle foot, Tack Trap and Catch master. They come in small or large containers and have all the directions. Most any do it yourself pest control store will have it or you can easily find it on line. I’ve even used aerosol spray glue and done alright with it but it does dry out after a few days. You can also make your own glue material if you are so inclined. A quart of water and a quart of corn syrup mixed up and brought to a boil will make a nice sticky glue you can use. Petroleum jelly works rather well and some folks I’ve heard use old motor oil but I really think that’s a bit much.

Now that you have your sticky of choice, choose what to put it on to catch your prey. If you’re after White flies or Aphids use bright yellow construction paper or cardboard. They are attracted to the color and you’ll fill up the trap in no time. For a mouse you might choose a small pizza or shoe box. Simply cut out an entry hole on both sides. For smaller insects like roaches and crawling insects it’s as simple as a piece of paper, cardboard or just about anything small and disposable. Use your imagination and you can tailor your sticky trap to fit any situation.

To apply the glue you need a plastic spoon or knife coated with liquid soap. (Not much, just a thin layer) You may need a sturdier tool like a butter knife or scissors if you buy the gallon size glue to scoop out what you need and cut it. These tools also need to be coated with soap. Then simply lay the glue on your trap and spread it around. A very thin layer is all that’s needed for insects but go a little thicker for rodents.

Now all you need is to place the sticky and wait for your bug. If he isn’t as cooperative as you like you can smear some peanut butter in the center of the trap or a piece of fruit might work as well. For flying insects simply punch a hole in the top of your trap and hang it with string or secure it to a popsicle stick and place it in the soil of your planter.

If you make extra sticky traps for later, you can size and cut out a piece of wax paper to place over the glue until you’re ready to use it. The paper will peel back easily and you’re in business.

The traps you make won’t be perfect but they’ll be just as effective as any store bought brand and the sealed container of glue should stay good for years of future use.

So have fun, keep the cat away while you’re making your traps; I’m kind of hungry, I think I’ll go make myself a sandwich.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Hi Hrorafa,

    Good question–normally corn syrup is what keeps food moist. You may need to experiment a bit. Adding sugar water or butter or even no-stick Pam spray might work but not too much to defeat the purpose. For home made fly traps I just use a can of spray glue–even when it dries a quick sprits makes it like new.

    Good Luck & let me know if you get a full proof recipe.

    Thanks for reading

  • Lauren

    What can I use to make glue strong enough to capture snakes that are too close to home with 2 small children?  I’d like to have them captured for identification so I know what I’m  up against.   

  • Hey Lauren,

    If the home made version isn’t strong enough you might be better served to just get a pack of glue traps from Lowes or Home Depot. Just get the large rat ones which I think come in packs of two. It also helps to disguise the traps unless you know of a specific path it is using time and again. Put it in a large shoe box or something with a hole cut out.

    Good Luck

  • anf

    Light corn syrup or dark? I tried the light with water and boiling and it just made
    thinner corn syrup. Maybe just use some A/C Foil style duct tape banded backwards
    on a small square board. a little peanut butter center for the appetizer and i think that the tape is stickier?.Anything to stop small field mice from destroying a season of hard work in the garden. Traps and poison from the local stores can get expensive. If you live in a rural area, then you are battling many. Something simple and cheap. Cats would be good except the coyotes like em too. Everything needs something..

  • Love the a/c tape idea… I’m not much on cooking so to be honest-I didn’t know there was more than one kind of corn syrup– I’d guess I I used ‘light’.
    For your mice you could get some ‘ketch-all’ traps. Simply place them in in the garden and curiosity is usually enough to get em inside–if they need incentive smear some peanut butter inside. When the mice are caught they remain alive and you can take the trap (with mice in it) a suitable distance away and let em go. I DON’T make commission but this link is for info on what to look for so you can search around and find what you need. ‘Tin Cat’s’ are also another brand and style that may suit you.

  • Liz

    Why does it need to be thinned with water?        Corn syrup on it’s own is thick.         I boiled equal parts dark corn syrup and water, only to end up with a liquid the same consistency of corn syrup (minus water).

  • Liz

    I poured the corn syrup mixture on a plastic lid and it forms a film in which the flies are not trapped.      The flies sit there and eat the glue!!!

  • Licensed31

    liz same thing is happening for me, why aren’t there better guides for this method (corn syrup and water) i don’t think it works

  • Joan34785

    Best trap
    ever a small tin can like cat food comes in.  Leave just a bit of food
    even can wash it a little leave on floor.  Roaches crawl in and cant get
    out because of the inside rim (sharp) going in is a breeze no rim going out oh
    well in the am you will find a can full of roaches.  Then discard them how
    you see fit, drown crunch burn.  This is the hard part I haven’t got the
    technique down for discarding them.  Don’t try to nuke them they are immune
    to being nuked.  Never tried freezing them.  It takes a long time to smother
    them to like closing them up without air.  Well has anyone else tried this
    it works like a gem every time for me and its free and not harmful to my cats? Don’t
    want to be morbid about it but have been experimenting on their disposal.
     Email me joan34785@mac. Com. I detest roaches.

  • You have a real future in pest control my friend! 😉 I like it.

  • Greg Crowe

    i have been using dish soap mixed with water in a spray bottle to kill roaches, read online, and it works. so after your roaches are in the can spray them with the soap water, it smothers them

  • Thanks for your comment

  • Maynor Palacios

    I’m looking
    for an adhesive for making traps salivosa bug, this final product we do to
    control these insects in growing sugar cane, what we need is a glue that
    temperature as dilute and apply it to a plastic green and then maneuvered to
    the packaging, if you provide an email I can send you the pictures of the
    process do you and how we use it. Thank you.
    I see tangle trap, when can i buy this product. thanks.

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  • Sham

    Hi Dear,
    please send me the procedure along with the pics of making good quality glue at home.
    my email id is :

  • shamim reja

    Please send me with the picture and process, i want to make it.
    My mail-

  • Randoll Burrell Jr

    diesel fuel spray on yard by fence

  • abdul wahid

    Hi, I want to make stacky glue to capture mice, can u please guide me

  • Sarah

    Hello, does corn syrup glue catch bees? if so what kind of homemade glue that doesn’t catch them. Thank you.

  • Leah Ann Dodd

    I’m thinking black strap molasses would work? It’s super thick and sticky.

  • Ajay Barwani

    please send me the procedure with the pictures on