Water filled plastic bags on trees scare bugs away?

Discuss

130 Responses to “Water filled plastic bags on trees scare bugs away?”

  1. keith chegwin says:

    Sea Water

    they have them in the Canary Islands.

    I was told that the water in the bag has to be Sea Water, as it causes the bugs (mosquitoes) to think that they were traveling over the sea. This would cause them to turn around and fly off from whence they came, in fear of getting lost over the ocean with no food.

  2. Moon says:

    Maybe we could just PRAY that the bugs will leave.

    I’m pretty sure that will work just as well.

  3. Neslock says:

    What a coincidence! I just started selling these repellent devices, only $30 apiece.

  4. Taro 3Yen.com says:

    She-e-e-it, these water-filled plastic bags to scare bugs are nothing compared to Japan, which has tens of thousands of plastic bottles of filled with water to scare cats away from buildings.
    See my report, Silly Japanese folkways: Cat-scare Bottle.

  5. compcyclos says:

    We usually use vodka and drop a pear in it.
    The bug gets attracted to the pear then $hits
    himself we then collect the excrement to use as fertilizer to grow our marijuana which we smoke and come up with new ways to utilize all these plastic bags we got lying around the pear flavored vodka needs to be drunk every three months so we make up holidays with fat men in red furry suits the bugs come around for the alcohol infused pear which begins the cycle in the first place well the alcoholic bugs anonymous complained and told us to put water instead thats why the bugs dont come around anymore I swear

  6. Takuan says:

    hah! mine are only $25. Charlatan! Further, mine have been blessed by Bennie the Rat himself!

  7. ornith says:

    Are we sure this isn’t supposed to be sugar water with a hole in the bag? Which would, you know, actually work.

    The only other thing remotely like this I know of is tying chunks of Irish Spring soap to your plants to discourage the deer from eating them; they apparently don’t like the smell. (Which is why it has to be Irish Spring; the fact that it’s green and thus blends in may have something to do with that too, though).

  8. Steven E. McDonald says:

    Re: the bags of water…if this were the case, flies would leave live humans alone as we’re basically big bags of water with some assorted chemicals.

    Light blue walls…ha ha haaaaaaa. I have light blue walls in my place. The only things between me and flypocalyptic doom are fly strips and amazing swatter-fu. Some of those bastards ar etougher than Chuck Norris, too. I’ve known cockroaches go down easier than Arizona flies.

  9. netgrrrl says:

    So, does this correlate in any way to people putting bottles of water on their lawns to frighten dogs away? I’ve never understood this one, either…

  10. Anonymous says:

    As I understand the mechanism,
    flying insects rely upon ONE representation of 3D reality.
    The transparent bag of clear water acts as a lens, resulting in a local aberration to the kind of reality the flying varmints like to be in.
    So, they’re scared of the anomaly, and move to other more comprehensible locales.

  11. Peaceflag2007 says:

    Hmm..what are the odds of a religious commune like a Kibbutz being a place of superstition?

  12. Anonymous says:

    I figure that water bombarded by UV radiation from the sun is purified so that migrant illegal immigrants from mexico seeking to sneak across the border to the US have something pure and clean to drink when supplies are running thin. ( note this behavior tends to occur most often in the southern US and Mexico most frequently) If you just completed a 20 mile trek through rough desert you can see how purified water might be desired. This is encouraged as effective (for umm insects or to prevent dogs from defecation nearby..yeah that’s it..) by sympathetic parties attempting to ease the strain of illegal migration.

  13. BeeBee says:

    You have to put a piece of aluminum foil or a penny in the bag. At least that’s what they do here in Ga. I have no idea if it works, but a lot of people say it does. *shrugs*

  14. Antinous says:

    If you hang a bag of water in your bedroom, does it prevent Fan Death?

  15. Takuan says:

    Korean fan death?

  16. theophrastus says:

    This reminds me of a viral behavior from a few decades ago where a plastic milk bottle filled with water placed on a (presumably well-manicured) lawn would keep neighborhood dogs from defecating on it
    (http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/lawn.asp)
    i recall seeing several lawns with a dozen of these on it. was that less unsightly than the pile of crap that it supposedly scared away (but didn’t)? [shrug] (peoplz iz kwazy)

  17. YUAYE says:

    Seriously it does work!
    I am living in South Korea and it is quite common here especially for the street food seller’s truck in SUMMER.
    Pity that since it is still few months left for Summer, I can’t take pictures right away.
    Well, maybe it only works for the normal bugs which means the one who can see properly. ‘Cuz I heard that becuase of the water inside of the plastic bag, the bug will see himself but really bigger than the realsize. Also I heard that it is also related with it’s eye structuer. What we call as a stemma..

  18. Mousewrites says:

    I have no idea if this works, but it reminds me of my next door neighbors as a kid; they had glass jars of water on their lawn. They swore up and down it kept dogs off of their grass.

    My thought, even as a kid was ‘Ok, so you don’t have poop making your yard ugly… instead you have frekin strange jars of water. Go you!’

  19. Mousewrites says:

    #25, we must have posted at the same time. They do look a sight, don’t they?

  20. Wealthblocks says:

    have we looked into the possibility of ZipLoc perpetuating these myths?

  21. BadKittyM says:

    Good heavens. I’ve seen and heard an awful lot of goofy urban myth over the years, and even now I still wonder how it is that otherwise intelligent people (for the most part) cling to the most patently ridiculous, specious crap as though admitting that it doesn’t work, can’t work and never did work would somehow spoil their lives. Then they pass the same silly crap down to their offspring.
    *sigh*

    Got brains?

  22. dirtdirt says:

    There are plastic bags full of water decorating many of Austin’s outdoor eateries. After much evaluation of this technique at a variety of places I can sum this up very simply: it does not work.

    Except maybe like Sam Jackson’s car’s heater in “The Long Kiss Goodnight”. It doesn’t work but it makes a very annoying noise that distracts you from the cold. These don’t work, but they are such a compelling mix of stupid (WHY would this POSSIBLY work?) and ugly (dusty, greasy, floppy bags of water bulging from every rafter) that they upstage the flies and make you think about other things.

  23. Antinous says:

    Korean fan death?

    Is there another kind?

  24. ill lich says:

    My dad used to put old glass gallon jugs filled with water around the garden to keep rabbits out of the vegetables (one jug at every corner)– the logic was that the wind blowing across the top of the filled jug created a tone which scared the rabbits away. I believed it at the time (duh– I was a kid), but it now seems even more suspect than the water-bag-bug-repellent idea. (

    However, I am willing to believe this will work, if someone does a double-blind test and records some kind of effect.

    Has Mythbusters explored this yet, and if not, why? (I guess because they don’t get to blow anything up or drive a car really fast.)

    I do not think it is wise to dismiss this without any testing first– who would’ve ever thought that common mold could yield powerful antibiotics, or that cleaning your surgical tools would prevent infection (“tiny invisible creatures are causing the infection?! Hogwash!! SHOW me these magical creatures you speak of!!”)

  25. el_beardo says:

    MS users should try tying one of these to their ‘puters…

  26. Tensegrity says:

    Since ugly bags of mostly water are known to attract bugs, perhaps attractive bags of 100% water are enough of a contrast to repel them.

  27. Tom says:

    It’s a remarkable feature of the human brain that narrative is far more compelling than data, to the extent that telling a plausible story about what is going through the bug’s mind is seen as being more important than presenting evidence of this purported effect.

    Although observation is the beginning of science, it isn’t the end. “Data” is not the plural of “anecdote”, so if you want to claim it works please offer some data, not anecdote and not theory.

    The experiment is so easy to perform that I might even do it myself when the weather gets warm enough for there to be actual bugs around (there is still snow in my back garden today, although only in small patches.)

  28. waugsqueke says:

    This is awesome. How does shit like this get started? There’s even folks in here claiming it works. So brilliant.

    I want to start one of these, something so outrageous and stupid yet with just enough of a dog-head tilt to it to make it work for the gullible and go viral.

    There’s a lot of “I heard it from so-and-so” in this thread, so that’s definitely something that has to factor in.

  29. waugsqueke says:

    Buzz buzz buzz. Dum de dum buzz buzz…. oh shit… OH SHIT! Get outta here, boys, it’s BAGS OF WATER! Fly for your lives!

  30. idyll23 says:

    Seriously? BUGS?

    These are effective at keeping BIRDS out of trees, not BUGS.

    They use them in outdoor Austin eateries to keep the grackels and sparrows from dropping a bomb into your dinner plate.

    The random refractions as they move in the wind is evidently off putting enough to repels birds. From what I understand the original repellent was aluminum Pie Plates, but they were replaced in favor of something quieter in the wind.

  31. Chris L says:

    Yea, I can confirm that this happens in southern Louisiana. I’ve only seen it at camp outs though. They would string up a bag just like in the picture. I asked them why and was told it kept mosquitoes, horseflies and deerflies away.
    “Right. Good luck with that, I’m gonna be over here, bathing in Deep Woods Cutter.”

    Here’s one I came up with on my own, that could use some scientific inquiry.
    Shaved legs = less ticks and chiggers.
    I forget if it helped or made it worse. Been a while since I went camping.

  32. jamdot says:

    it works, it has something to do with the way the light refracts through the bag with water in it, it messes up the bug’s vision

  33. subversionary says:

    #23, Just what sort of Peace is it that you’re advocating in your screenname? The cultural insensitivity of your comment suggests it’s not global.

  34. dnafrequency says:

    They do this at restaurants and bars here in Austin. It works better if they drop a couple of pennies in the bag.

  35. holtt says:

    Kids, don’t listen to the teacher. It’s a piñata!

  36. holtt says:

    Kids, don’t listen to the teacher. It’s a piñata!

  37. Takuan says:

    you just like shaving your legs

  38. Jeffrey McManus says:

    This sounds like a total cargo cult to me. “Messes with the bug’s vision” sounds totally bogus — why doesn’t the sun have that effect?

  39. pepik says:

    I’ve seen this at the Hobbit Cafe in Houston. I’ve asked them about it, and they swear it works.

  40. pollyannacowgirl says:

    We live in Manhattan and was having a hell of a time with houseflies. For a few days, my husband was having fun going on fly-killing sprees, but I HATE cleaning up fly guts. Worse than the actual bug are what I imagine to be its bodily fluids teeming with bacteria, splattered all over my apartment!

    Decided to try this method and it is totally working for us. Hubby thought I was crazy, and a neighbor who popped in noticed, but was decidedly quiet about the hanging bags.

    Of course, as I write this, a fly just zoomed in under the bag and zoomed right out.

  41. Atomische says:

    mcdonough (#6) Please don’t kill the bees! We need the bees!

  42. Stefan Jones says:

    You know those big transparent blue plastic jugs that water-cooler water comes in?

    If you fill those with kraut juice and put it in your apartment building’s elevator, you won’t be bothered by vampires or werewolves.

    Really, try it.

  43. Destiny says:

    But you have to fill it with MAGIC water…

  44. satiredun says:

    It works. I used to work at an auto shop that had a big rollup door, that we would keep open during the really hot summer. We always had a problem with flies buzzing around the shop. After seeing it down at the cafe (they put a penny in theirs, and i’ve seen others put coins in the bag as well), we tried it (with pennies) and within a couple days, once all the original flies had found their way out..no more flies. it was awesome.

  45. Supercontroller says:

    Not sure if this product was created to cash in on peoples’ faith in the water-filled plastic bag, but I tried it a few years ago when we suffered a plague of flies and it seemed to work–they’d fill up with flies in days. But since it’s a trap with a fly attractant, you put it where you don’t want flies, not where you want to hang out. Oh, and does it ever stink!

    http://www.rescue.com/products/fly.asp

  46. figment88 says:

    I know this works because all of the programmers at Microsoft have plastic bags of water hanging over their cubicals, and Vista is bug-free.

  47. stovis says:

    It only works with holy water.

  48. Moon says:

    #6, what’s a water bee? Sounds scary.

  49. Serenace says:

    I use aluminum pie plates to frighten birds away from my fruit trees (this works). When I pick the apples and cherries I find wormholes and at the end of the summer there are always cicada shells on the trunks of the trees. Maybe I should try the water bags. Doesn’t seem like it would do anything. I’m pretty sure the bags are intended for birds not bugs.

  50. morehumanthanhuman says:

    Well, it seems no one has really done a study on if this works or not so the jury is out. Also, please note that anecdotal evidence(IE, “this one restaurant I visited used them…”) is not an acceptable argument.

    But there is the possibility it might mess with the insects visual systems.
    http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~weg22/opticFlow.html

    Clearly, we need to get the Mythbusters to test this.

  51. danegeld says:

    This bag is part of a Maker project aimed at detecting the quantum goldfish tunneling effect.

  52. trr says:

    1. I doubt it would work, but I’d rather have a jar of water on my lawn than one pile (or many piles) of dog poop.

    2. I did see in an article about malaria a picture of a bag of cow’s blood that was just covered with feeding mosquitoes. Not sure what the bag was made of but I suspect it resembled skin more than a Zip-Loc bag.

    3. We recently have had to put a piece of aluminum foil on our bedroom window and keep the blind shut in order to deter some robins from repeatedly bashing into the window. It has worked.

  53. Moon says:

    You all need to move into the big city. Very few bugs in Chicago downtown. We’ve got 3 million people swatting them, maybe that’s why!

  54. Takuan says:

    I like the pinata idea, but use kerosene and give the kids flaming torches (..what?)

  55. jamdot says:

    #37 – the sun alone doesnt have the same effect because air doesnt bend light, while water does bend light…the bent light, refraction and the number of eyes that bugs have detracts them…think about looking at a light through a kaleidoscope, bugs wont fly into an area where their vision is affected that much.

  56. guavajellyfish says:

    I have only seen something like this once before. I know a guy from here in Louisiana who fills bags with water and pennies. He hangs them from his porch awning and told me they’re for good luck. I assumed this was a modern version of the apotropaic “spirit bottles,” which are just bottles you hang in a tree to scare off mean boogeymannish ghosties. It’s not an unusual custom here but I don’t know how widespread this is… I think it’s a voodoo thing brought over from Africa. There seems to be a similar custom in the middle east using nazar amulets instead of bottles, pic: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://lh3.google.com/_5Q1TB6UIp-c/RqM6valN-4I/AAAAAAAABeo/Ry39oGcdGl4/s800/2a%2B-%2BCappadocia%2B01%2B-%2BA%2Bwishing%2Btree.JPG&imgrefurl=http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/35-EzUG-56_ZkIBf3PAsnQ&h=600&w=800&sz=130&hl=en&start=2&um=1&tbnid=vhA0LdhCQ1EQPM:&tbnh=107&tbnw=143&prev=/images%3Fq%3Devil%2Beye%2Btree%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DG
    Anyway, I have no factual basis or anything for my theory about the connection here, but I guess its as good a guess as any.

    As for the Japanese cat-scare bottles, why would they do that? Especially since they have to rent dogs?!

  57. El Mariachi says:

    Sugar water in a 2-liter soda bottle acts as an effective trap for yellowjackets and such, but that’s because they’re attracted to the contents and drown. If a plastic jug is too redneck for your yard, you can buy fancy-looking glass things made specifically for that purpose. (Insofar as anything visibly full of sodden bug carcasses can be “fancy-looking.”)

  58. shawne says:

    This totally works.

    See what happens is when the bug gets close, the water bag falls on its head and makes the bug look really foolish.

  59. wagonlips says:

    More bags of water over doorways here. Seen in Newport, OR.

  60. jimbell says:

    There has to be a penny in the bag.
    Really.

  61. Tarek says:

    I was first introduced to this on the patio at Juan in a Million (best breakfast tacos evah) in Austin, where we never saw a fly. I was told that bugs’ compound eyes can’t deal with the refraction (light bending) in the bags, so they steer clear.

    This doesn’t sound too far-fetched to me, considering that it’s thought that flying insects use the horizon as a reference to stabilize their flight. The bags of water, and the resulting visual effects, may have the effect of creating a no-fly (heh) zone in the vicinity, where the insects’ flight instrumentation goes haywire.

  62. Takuan says:

    what year?

  63. racer x says:

    Awesome post! #61 did it for me – almost blew beer out of my nose!

    I’m definitely going to have to try the water-bottle-for-cats. All of the neighborhood cats pee on my front door and it’s driving me crazy. I’ve been tempted to try to electrify it, but my knowledge of electronics is no good. I’d end up frying myself.

  64. Hodur says:

    My grandfather in Chile has been using the “plastic bag” method ever since I remember. He says the reflection of the bugs in the water scares them and they go away.

    Nobody here thinks it really works; but we let him install the bags everywhere, anyway.

  65. unbreakable says:

    Im not a biologist nor have studied optics, but I can try to guess about this:

    I am sure it works. Do you actually think that thousands of people would be hanging water bags all around if no one ever saw some results? LOL

    The insect eye is a compound eye, made of hundreds individual lenses, these lenses see parts of the image and work in different modes according to the insect see here for more info
    http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/C/CompoundEye.html

    Some insects have more eyes that also add to the complexity. Since humans have single lensed eyes it is hard for us to imagine how exactly an insect sees. There was a simulation online of how an insect sees however its not online anymore.

    But even that simulation would be wrong, because we might simulate the insect eye, but not the insect BRAIN, and no one can simulate that yet.
    The reason is this:
    What scientists are discovering is that its not the eye alone that makes the image of course, but the brain of each animal insect or human is what actually creates the image. And this image may be different from what the actual light information normally would show. Many experiments were done years ago by the creator of the instant photo Kodak camera showing that the brain compensates for variation of lighting unlike mechanical cameras that need filters according to the lighting they are receiving (for example interior or exterior lighting)

    see here about bees and how their brains can compensate to find flowers even though lighting can change.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/11/1101_051101_bee_vision.html

    So my guess is that the way light is scattered from the hanging water bags gives the impression to the bug that there is a barrier of water, like a wall, and will not want to pass it.
    It is the combination of the water AND the shape of the bag that creates a sort of lens.
    This of course is due to a natural mechanism of self preservation, if there was a waterfall the bug would not want to just run into it and be killed.
    Having bags all around mixes up the bug and finally it flees… or should I say fleas :-)

    K.S

  66. Kristi says:

    My grandparents always had these things hanging around. They swore by it, but I always found it a bit silly.

  67. Enochrewt says:

    It may not be effective at keeping bugs away, but it’ll certainly keep -me- away. Superstition = nutbaggery = I don’t want to know you or give you my money.

    So you’re superstitious about superstition?

  68. GabrielF says:

    #23 – A Kibbutz is NOT a “religious commune”, the whole Kibbutz movement is based on secular, socialist ideals.

  69. Ian70 says:

    It may not be effective at keeping bugs away, but it’ll certainly keep -me- away. Superstition = nutbaggery = I don’t want to know you or give you my money.

  70. howtoplayalone says:

    Yeah, they do it in Korea too.

  71. Falcon_Seven says:

    @51 – ROTFLMAO

    #37 – the sun alone doesnt have the same effect because air doesnt bend light, while water does bend light…

    Well that explains why mirages of beatiful oases are figments of the imagination of dehydrated desert travelers. NOT.

    A ray of light changes direction everytime that it encounters a change in the density of the medium through which it it is traveling; the effect is called refraction. That’s why sunsets are red and the shimmering ‘puddles’ of water that appear in the distance on those hot roads in the summer disappear when you get close to them. It’s also the principle upon which the lens of your eye works. Oh, and by the way, the sky is blue because of Rayleigh scattering.

  72. Hach3 says:

    It works better if you add red dye to the water before you hanging up the bag, then spray the whole area with poison.

  73. JonnySoups says:

    Oh Thank God! I thought it was a goldfish lynching….
    Seriously though, I once read about a very similar device that has been hailed as the reason Mothra hasn’t been back to Tokyo since the 60′s!

  74. heydn says:

    I second what folks have been saying, specifically TARO 3YEN.COM for mentioning cats.

    When I was in Japan, I saw water bottles EVERYWHERE, especially on steps and around poles. Not giving it much thought, I assumed that it was just the Japanese saving rain water… I finally spoke to a friend about it and he said that it’s to prevent cats from peeing everywhere. Who knew!

  75. presterjohn says:

    Posting on Boing Boing about hanging water bags definitely attracts more comments than posting about how mortgage derivatives tanked the economy.

  76. Moon says:

    Goldfish LYNCHING! There isn’t enough of that! I will have my REVENGE, Goldie! I will have my revenge!

    :D

  77. hjo3 says:

    I am sure it works. Do you actually think that thousands of people would be hanging water bags all around if no one ever saw some results? LOL

    How many people kiss the Blarney Stone? How many pray? Just because thousands do something doesn’t mean it works.

  78. lebleu says:

    yep, it does work! I’ve seen it in a small village in Honduras; the women used to scare the flies, so they could chop veggies without having to wave them away every minute… very high tech, isn’t it?

  79. Anonymous says:

    The bag of water works only if you put 3-5 pennies in it.

  80. sandalian says:

    Some people here in Java Land believe that by hanging colourful water inside a plastic bags on the tree will avoid their house from evils.

    I know it’s only a myth, but it’s nice to see those hanging colorfull water inside plastic bags.

  81. solishu says:

    I have not idea if it works or not, but they do use this same technique here in Bolivia. I don’t see many bugs, though being at 12,000 feet might also have something to do with it.

  82. pjcamp says:

    No.

    Oh please.

    It’s the kibbutz that scares them.

  83. pjcamp says:

    Flies have a primitive if-then decision tree for a brain. Neither fear nor bravery plays a role in any of their reactions. What are they supposed to be afraid of, the water, the bag or the fact that it hovers? The truth is most bugs don’t have eyesight worth a plugged nickel.

    Couple of quotes from an Orlando Sentinel article a while back:

    “Phil Kaufman, a University of Florida professor of veterinary entomology, said there is no scientific research to back up those claims.

    “It’s a pretty safe bet it doesn’t work,” he said.”

    “But a North Carolina State University researcher spent 13 weeks looking at the effects of water bags on flies at an egg-packing plant. Mike Stringham, also a veterinary entomologist, meticulously counted droppings left by flies on white “spot cards.”

    The results were conclusive: The water bags attracted more flies.

    “In the control room versus bags, the bags were consistently higher every time,” he said.”

    In the words of XKCD, “Stand Back! I’m going to try Science!”

  84. eggsyntax says:

    This reminds me of a great lifehacker post on a DIY fruit fly trap made from a two-liter soda bottle. Made my kitchen enormously more habitable.

  85. Mycroft says:

    #58 “I am sure it works. Do you actually think that thousands of people would be hanging water bags all around if no one ever saw some results? LOL”

    Perhaps you’re right.

    Would thousands of people carry around the foot of a dead rabbit if it didn’t improve their luck enough that it outweighed the fact that they were carrying around the foot of a dead rabbit? Nah. People aren’t that dumb.

    #55: “This doesn’t sound too far-fetched to me, considering that it’s thought that flying insects use the horizon as a reference to stabilize their flight”

    Thought by whom? There are many places, including the indoors, where an insect can not see a horizon. They seem to do alright despite that, and certainly don’t avoid those places. A quick google search only shows a few mentions of using the horizon that way, but not of requiring the horizon for navigation. It’s just, possibly, one of the things they use to find their way around.

  86. mpb says:

    Evolution! first 2 liter bottles showed up on lawns in Auckland New Zealand in 1987 and now they take to the trees. Can the bipedal tool-users be far behind?

    (bottles keep dogs off if the entire lawn is covered)

  87. Latente says:

    In Italy, a urban legend say that you leave a bottle filled with water next the entering door, cat’s don’t urine in that place.

    :-|

  88. pollox87 says:

    I just got back from Israel. While in the Golan Heights, I saw something that looked similar. It was a bag hanging from a string like that but it had sugar water in it and a small hole poked in it. The idea was that the bugs could find the hole through smell, but could not find their way out once in, and they would eventualy die. (Or at least be stuck in the bag, I would imagine with an huge supply of water and food they could live a good long bug life)

    It seemed to work well, there were quite a few bugs in them.

  89. ella novak says:

    The explanation I’ve gotten to this phenomena is that the bug gets close to the plastic bag filled with water, sees his distorted reflection, thinks to himself “oh my god! this dude is ugly and scary” and runs away.

  90. eggsyntax says:

    @#66: Fundamental methodological flaw: “Mike Stringham, also a veterinary entomologist, meticulously counted droppings left by flies on white ‘spot cards.’ The results were conclusive: The water bags attracted more flies.”

    In fact, the rooms with bags had fewer flies but, terrified of their reflections, the flies reflexively evacuated their bowels, causing spurious spot card results.

  91. gabrielm says:

    Here is an abstract of the article in the Orlando Sentinel that PJCAMP mentioned. I am too cheep to pay for the full version.

  92. Benjamin says:

    This thread is AWESOME.

  93. Moon says:

    In fact, the rooms with bags had fewer flies but, terrified of their reflections, the flies reflexively evacuated their bowels, causing spurious spot card results.

    Hahahahahaha! That just goes to show ya, you need peer review! Somebody WILL come up with a better theory!

    LOL!

  94. shmoo says:

    TARO 3 YEN, HEYDN -

    Using PET plastic drink bottles filled with water to scare away cats, that WORKS. At least everyone tells me it does.

    It seems best to use not the ordinary ones but the ones that hold like a quart and are oblong in cross-section. The angles catch the sun and scare the cats away it seems.

    There is one really, really big problem with this though. THEY CAN START FIRES! I shit you not. Fires have been started by the lensing effect in bright sun so you don’t want to have the focus on anything that can burn.

    A similar problem MIGHT exist for those hanging plastic bags, so watch out!

  95. Anonymous says:

    it will not work becoz insects are not afraid of water

  96. jonathanpeterson says:

    FWIW – it’s not blue walls, it’s sky blue porch ceilings (very common down south) and it’s only supposed to prevent wasps, dirt dobbers and hornets from building nests because it looks like they are not protected from open sky and nest destroying rain.

    We did it a few years ago when we repainted toe porch just for the traditional look and have had noticeably fewer wasp nests (spiders don’t care a bit, may even have more since they aren’t competing with wasps).

  97. Narual says:

    @1 — Lisa, I’d like to buy your rock.

    @26 — from the same country that thinks people die all the time by sleeping in rooms with the fan on. (damn, someone beat me to it)

    I can see a better use for plastic bags of water hanging from trees in dry/hot climates… but it’d have to be the kind with super-small holes in it… sort of a basic evaporative cooler. And there are probably better ways to do that than plastic bags.

    I can see it keeping birds away though. But the best bet is #61 — “Goldfish Lynching”

  98. GTMoogle says:

    “Do you actually think that thousands of people would be hanging water bags all around if no one ever saw some results? LOL”

    Yes. It’s a very common and well understood phenomena:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

    So no, on its own, “thousands of people” is not proof, and it’s not even suggestive that it might be likely to be true.

    Now, there are strong first-person reports of great success, which is much better, and should also be easy to prove. Hang up a bag of water every other day near a garbage bin next to a white wall (so you can see the flies against it more easily), and take a picture of it on a consistent basis.

    (Un)fortunately, I don’t have a fly problem around here, so I’ll use that as my excuse for being too lazy to do it myself :)

    But without evidence, a lot of people nodding in agreement is *known* to be basically worthless.

  99. crunchyk9 says:

    They’ve been doing this down in texas for years, I’ve always wished the mythbusters would pick this one up.

    As far as I can tell perhaps the water triggers something in the fly’s brain to go hide.

    If you were a fly do you think it would behoove you to be out in a rain storm?

  100. sluggo says:

    It definitely works on tigers.

  101. Anonymous says:

    I just did this in June for an outdoor BBQ. We had flies everwhere until I took 3 freezer ziplock bags, and filled them half way up with water, and then hung them below 5 foot from the ground. I tried different levels on different tents to see what worked best. For most of the day the flies were gone, but at dusk they did return for a little while, until they went where ever they go at night.
    My friends thought I was crazy until they noticed the flies were gone. From what I understand the movement of the water in the bags scares the flies into thinking something is constantly after them and eventually they go somewhere else.

    The stinky fly traps work for attracting and killing flies, but if you need immediate relief for a party or BBQ try the bags. Flys normally stay below 5 foot during the day so I put my bags around 3 to 4 foot and hung them from strings. A little movement seemed to help, as one little boy liked swatting the bags.

  102. Enochrewt says:

    This doesn’t make sense to me. I guess the only thing we have to keep away here are mosquitos and since they spawn in water, I’d think they’d be attracted to it. But what do I know?

  103. bodgetastic says:

    They do this at a restaurant in Houston I like to visit on the patio….the flies still land on your food. Maybe it’s bug specific.

  104. Takuan says:

    ok,which bugs?

  105. mcdonough says:

    Supposedly if you fill a narrow-necked glass jug with water bees will find their way to it but won’t be able to fly out of the water due to the narrow neck.

  106. DungHeap says:

    NO!!!!
    I lived on a small island in the carib for 2 years which was known for having these bags everywhere. When it wasn’t raining there were flies everywhere including flying around and landing on these silly bags. Either we had blind flies, fearless flies, or the bags had NO EFFECT.

  107. AlxVazx says:

    Old folks have been using this in Mexico to scare away flies for as long as I can remember, and probably decades before that. Does not work but if the flies retreat to somewhere else, they claim it was the bags. They believe the flies are scared of their refracted image, or maybe other fly looks bigger behind the bag.

  108. rollerskater says:

    nutbaggery, roffle.

    you should suspend another bag full of rice next to it, instant social commentary.

  109. neftaly says:

    I’m sure it’s highly effective on cooties.

  110. Takuan says:

    now,a paper bag that looks like a wasp nest, that works

  111. anthropomorphictoast says:

    Actually, if you use a coke-type bottle with a 1/4 cup of some type of sweet drink (orange juice works best), a bunch of bugs (especially gnats) will drown themselves in it.

    It looks like a disgusting insect death-pit, but it works. :P

  112. UnderRat says:

    @#43

    Yeah, Vista has no bugs, they’re “features”.

  113. fuzzycuffs says:

    I have no idea how this would work. Most insects wouldn’t discern a bag of water based on sight. It’d all be via smell or pheromones, which a bag of water is not giving off.

    You can keep bees from your picnic by leaving bowls of beer at the periphery. They’ll be really attracted to the beer (aren’t we all!), and hopefully not bother you.

  114. Scrofulous says:

    I’ve used this method for years and it works, not 100% but it certainly reduces the number of insects around. I understand that it works because it messes with the insects visual system. I don’t know if this is true. Light blue painted walls are supposed to work as well. I learned this trick from a taco vendor in Hermasillo, Mexico.

  115. holtt says:

    Yes. It’s a very common and well understood phenomena:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

    It’s what runs a certain percentage of Boing Boing when it gets all political :^)

  116. Antiglobalism says:

    How do I scare corporate bugs away?

  117. Antinous says:

    They have these hanging in the windows of the Wheel Inn in Cabazon, the truck stop diner next to the dinosaurs from PeeWee’s Big Adventure. When the waitress tried to explain it, I almost choked on my buttermilk.

  118. Takuan says:

    “is the process by which groups of people make decisions. The term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, but politics has been observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions.

    Politics consists of “social relations involving authority or power”[1] and refers to the regulation of a political unit, [2] and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.”

  119. Takuan says:

    Politics is who gets what, when, and how.

  120. Takuan says:

    Seth Brundle: Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects… don’t have politics. They’re very… brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can’t trust the insect. I’d like to become the first… insect politician. Y’see, I’d like to, but… I’m afraid, uh…

  121. Ari B. says:

    @23:

    While some kibbutzim are religious in orientation, most are secular. Further, as someone mentioned earlier, the kibbutz movement was initally a socialist, secularist movement.

    Of course, they’re in *Israel,* and everyone knows that place is full of religious whackjobs…

    *eyeroll*

  122. ESQ says:

    I saw this at Rudy’s BBQ in Austin on my last business trip, and they swear it works. When I walked around back there wasn’t a single fly over the dumpsters…

  123. Dillenger69 says:

    I works well as a mammoth repellent, but that’s about it.
    I’ve had bags of water hanging all over the house and haven’t been attacked by a single mammoth since I put them up.

  124. kip w says:

    I am terrified by that picture. Please take it down. Now.

    Kip “Giant Flying Insect” W

  125. mdhatter says:

    I hear a Maytag (or two) in the yard keeps the blackflies away.

  126. knoxvillegirl says:

    Lots of good jokes in this thread. That said, sometimes weird things work without a scientific explanation and this is one of them. In our co-op we use bags of h2o with a penny to keep flies at bay. As anyone who has dealt with flies in the south knows, every little bit helps.

  127. jmkporsche says:

    My In-Laws had these over their open doorways in the summer to keep the flies out. They had seen this in town at some of the shops and decided to give it a try. Needless to say, it did not work, which perplexed me because I thought flies could not fly under-water ;)

  128. Anonymous says:

    I spent a few weeks in the summer of 2004 with some Southerners, and learned about the plastic bag hung near an outdoor light to keep bugs away. Honestly, I thought they were all crazy. When I got home to my parent’s farm (bug heaven) in Wisconsin I decided to test it. We hung bags, without holes, plain water, no penny or other such metal at 3 different locations around the farm where bugs gathered nightly to swarm at the light. Two bags were at a house door (brown siding) and 1 was on a workshop (white siding). All 3 bags made a noticeable difference. Not 100% bug free, but probably 90% bug free. It was a relief. The bags were at different heights off the ground, under 5 foot had nothing to do with it for our bags. They were hung within 12 inches of outdoor lights. The lights at the farm that we did not hang bags at, were swarmed like they usually are every summer. The bugs being gone was great, but all the people asking us what we were doing with bags hanging in prominent locations was annoying. Nobody in Wisconsin had ever heard of it, so we had a lot of explaining to do. The bags affected mosquitoes, moths, flies, june bugs, all of the bugs that swarm lights.

    So…there you go. This isn’t 100% scientific method, but it’s better than “I heard it works.”

    On another note: I was doing some companion plant research for my garden and found that marigolds repel mosquitoes and other garden pests. I tried it last year, but it didn’t work–I live in North Dakota now. Anyway, I’m trying it again this year with more marigolds. I wonder if the key is an unbroken barrier ring of blooming flowers.

Leave a Reply