Pet Fly on a String: Wacky Fun for All Ages!
Welcome to the crazy world of pet flies, and the camaraderie of the Famous Fly Roper's Association!
Whether you do fly roping because you're bored, or whether you do it for budget-friendly entertainment and stress relief (a wild and zany fly leading YOU on his leash will definitely help you forget about your troubles!), you're sure to spew plenty of laughter, and maybe even develop a sincere appreciation for these typically shunned little wonders of Mother Nature!
This lens will introduce some of the tips and tricks to catching Rogues (wild flies), raising Royals ( "clean" fly-babies from pupae), roping your flies, caring for your leashed flies as pets, registering your flies, and maybe even receiving recognition in the Famous Fly Roper's Hall of Fame!
Fun Pet Fly Activities
Fly Cootie Exaggeration
Fly stigmas and phobias are really a matter of what's between a person's ears. In actuality, properly farmed flies are no more dangerous to handle than domestic rats, mice, or pigs, all of which are capable of eating garbage. Even in captivity dogs will eat poop, yet people let dogs lick faces, and share ice-cream off the same cone. Yet others "enjoy" sweet little kitty kisses, even after kitty's leisurely day of full-on grooming!
The point is, fly cooties are no more dangerous than the cooties of other critters, so don't be afraid to expand your pet-keeping horizons.
The Best Flies for Roping
Generally speaking, the larger the fly, the more likely he/she will be able to haul a thread leash. Some large fly species bite, however, so stick to colorful bottle flies, or striped flesh flies, neither of which bite. With either specie you stand a good chance that they will be able to fly on a string once roped (only about half the flies you rope will be able to achieve lift with a string on).
Raising "Clean" Royal Fly Babies
Even if you're not a hard-core germaphobe, you may still prefer a pet fly that you KNOW has never touched a poo-poo pile. You basically have two options: One is to purchase bottle fly pupae and hatch them in an indoor net nursery, and the other is to bait your own flies outdoors, then hatch the pupae from your trap in an indoor net nursery.
Building a net fly nursery is easy and cheap - maybe a buck or two total if you D.I.Y. (complete instructions are included in the FFRA Fly Roper's Manual). Your greatest expense might be a warming lamp (a desk-type lamp with a regular 40W bulb is fine). Pupae can be purchased online, with a batch of 100 costing roughly $10 including shipping EXCEPT during temperature extremes. They can be shipped at any time of the year, but it will cost you more for their climate control during temperature extremes.
Alternatively you can spend about $8 in materials to bait and harvest your own fly pupae. It takes all of ten days or so (instructions in the FFRA Fly Roper's Manual).
Either way, go in with a few friends and the expense is very minimal.
Shown here are Bottle Fly pupae (left) compared to "House Fly" pupae (right). Whatever variety the pupae on the right really were, the little flies were just too small for roping.
The Basics of Fly Roping
There are a number of ways to rope a fly. You can secure them to a sponge board with a staple by hand, then rope - we find the flies can still fight you too easily with this method. There's also the water in a dish method, which is similar to the old-west way of breaking a horse; they can't move so well in water. This method results in a heavy, twisted string, but it does work if you don't take too long. Another way is to stun your fly in the freezer. You have to be careful, though, as you can render your fly an invalid with this method, too. The advantage of freezing is you'll have a dry, tangle-free string to start out with. Freezing details are provided in the FFRA Fly Roper's Manual.
Tip: We recommend silk thread as it is super strong, it doesn't tangle as easily, it's environmentally friendly when releasing flies, and it's a pampering luxury for your pet :-) You'll also need a leash anchor of some sort for a roped fly. We recommend bracelet charms as they're the perfect weight, and they allow you to express your individuality.
Fly on a String Video - (Teen boys make champion fly ropers!)
Feeding and Watering Your Pet Fly
Flies like to eat the same kinds of foods that people do. Don't let them eat off your plate, though, as they spit on their food to dissolve it, then slurp it up. A more agreeable feeding solution is to make "instant" fly food out of half powdered milk and half sugar, and feed that as needed. You can add to that table scraps, fruit juice, and treats. Even a fly appreciates good food!
Your fly will also need fresh water daily. Bottle caps make cute dishes for a pet fly, and the edges are easy for a fly to hold on to. Even so a fly can drown in his dish, so you'll need to add toothpick halves, or a sop of natural sponge or bread crust. Change daily to prevent bacteria growth.
Make a "Fly" Fly Pad! (Day Display)
Fly pads are a fun way to enjoy and showcase a pet fly. The basic fly pad shown here is made of a 9x12 shoe box lid with a fancy stationery paper. Shoe stores almost always have box lids you can have for free, and you can purchase small quantities of stationary papers at your local dollar store.
The little cocktail umbrella is a MUST for your fly pad, as your fly will need it to shade himself from unplanned direct sun.
Decorating and adding miniature "accessories" to your fly's pad is where the hobby becomes a personal and imaginative art form!
Traveling With Your Pet Fly
There will be times when you will need to transport a pet fly, or put it in an enclosure to protect it from predators (such as Fluffy, your pet cat). Any little lidded box or container will work. Simply cut out a hole in the lid (leave a lip for gluing), and glue a piece of window screen in place for aeration. Your little fly box can also be decorated for the fun of it.
To keep a fly box sanitary use disposable floor liners. Simply cut out a supply of paper floor liners in advance. Change as needed.
When taking your fly outside, remember they are temperature sensitive. Traveling with a fly may require heating pads or ice for comfort. During winter months metal lapel pin bug boxes, like the one pictured below, are an easy way to share your body heat with your fly (D.I.Y. instructions in the Fly Roper's Manual; supply kits available by mail using accessories module following).
Fly Roping Parties Rule!
Want to throw a party no one will EVER forget? Fly roping parties are an out-of-the-ordinary blast for grownups and kids alike! While fly roping parties can not be hosted on the spur of the moment (you'll need to hatch some pupae first, order 3 to 4 weeks in advance), they are absolutely hilarious to plan and host. You can even send out "We're Expecting" invitations that let guests know a fly-baby shower is pending! We have included a variety of reproducible invitations and party graphics in the FFRA Fly Roper's Manual.
Along with teaching guests how to fly-rope at your party, our Fly Roper's Manual shows you how to creatively entertain with tons of hilarious fly-themed party ideas. Choose from an extensive and imaginative list of game options, including the Fly-On-Brownie Toss (your guests will have a deliciously gross time!), Fly-by-Night Operation (a glow-in-the-dark fly hunting game), and Pin the Fly on the Outhouse (printable components provided), along with all kinds of clever ideas for party favors, food, décor, and prizes.
The absolute hilarity is non-stop, and the prizes are seriously to "fly" for! So be the first in your circle of friends to throw a radically "fly" party!
Take Pictures While You Can
Believe it or not, you can come to love a little fly! They are very endearing as they lead you around on their leashes (a quick "pick me up" any time), and they will join you in certain antics. Own a few, and you'll even come to recognize variations in personality. (Yes, it's true!)
They are, however, short-lived at an average of 2 months, with a maximum of 6+/- months, and they are easily, easily hurt. So don't wait to take pictures of a pet fly. Do it promptly, and keep a little fly journal for fun memories down the road.
Word of caution: We have found that the easiest way to hurt a pet fly continues to be dropping the anchor while holding the fly. It typically breaks their little necks. So learn to be aware of the anchor above all, and handle with care :-)
Adorable Fly Funerals, Too!
Being that flies are so short-lived, one must be prepared for the not-so-distant certainty of a little fly-buddy's death. Pet fly funerals are actually a hoot, as you can't take them too seriously. Add a circle of friends who are pet fly keepers, and fly funerals become an excuse to get together and laugh for a few.
Shown here is a tiny toothpick cremation scaffold (pyre). We have this one sitting in a frying pan on the stove top, as the little flies of honor tend to blow away too easily at the slightest outdoor breeze (oops).
The FFRA Fly Roper's Manual includes all kinds of funeral ideas, instructions and printables, including a tiny coffin pattern. You'll even get a couple eccentric alternatives to burial which are sure to have you smiling as you say goodbye... well, kind of :-)
Include a Friend: Gift a Pet Fly Kit!
Putting together Pet Fly Kits is an inexpensive way to invite your friends and family into the charming antics of pet fly ownership. Custom, hand-finished fly pads and fly boxes make for one-of-a-kind expressions of "strange-love"... such as with the black heart fly box shown here.
Making a Pet Fly Kit is easy! To the basics you can even add a nursery net (for raising Royals), or a home made butterfly net (for catching Rogues). Your local dollar store is a great source for supplies!
The FFRA Fly Roper's Manual also has a reproducible "Care and Feeding of Pet Flies" mini brochure that you can print out and include in your Pet Fly Kits.
Fly kits are great for lifting spirits and saying "Yoe my favowit wiewdo, evur!"
Pet Fly Crafter's Corner - Cool miniatures, hilarious fun!
Pet Fly Hobby Blog Shares More Fun!
We're having fun sharing the pet fly hobby! The author of The Official FFRA Fly Roper's manual blogs her own pet fly hobby happenings, and spotlights her own super star pet flies! . . .
FFRA Fly Roper's Manual - $7.99 Download
The Official FFRA Fly Roper's Manual is available through Lulu.com/TeachFromTheHeart
$ 7.99 instant pdf download w/ full color printables
$31.99 full color reproducibles in flexible soft cover
The Official FFRA Fly Roper's Manual covers EVERYTHING you need to know for the successful taming and conquest of flies! Plus you'll get all the adorable miniature patterns, game components, party invitations, and other smile-inducing printables you'll need for tons of creative fun.
-freezing and roping options and instructions
-party invitations, ideas, games, printables
-fly-baby nursery manufacture and instructions
-pupae ordering and farming details
-pet fly funeral how-to's, eulogy, patterns, printables
-fly accessories patterns and instructions
-plenty of ingenious surprises!
If you can imagine hosting a fly-themed party of any kind, at any point, then this manual is a definite MUST HAVE! Just need a great hobby that's inexpensive and highly imaginative? Then fly roping is for YOU!
Call up your friends and join in the antics together. Get your copy of the FFRA Fly Roper's Manual, and stir up some wacky fun today!
Cute Pet Fly Accessories to Order by Mail
The following pet fly accessories can be ordered by mail. Print out the order form (link in following paragraph), and send along with check or money order to the address on the form. Flat rate shipping and handling is $4 on all orders. Please allow 4 - 6 weeks for delivery.
To copy and print out the order form, Right Click on this Accessories Order Form link, then "Save Link As" to your hard drive. Open up the document on your computer and print. Easy-peazy!
FFRA T-Shirts, Totes and More
The "Proud FFRA Fly-Roper" Shop
Free Color Pages - Pet Fly Babies
Right Click this Pet Fly Color Pages link and "Save Link As" to transfer both color pages to your hard drive. Enjoy!
Visitor Comments Welcome! - If you agree pet flies are freakin' awesome, please social us. Thanks!
Fly lover on April 22, 2017:
I have about 50 pet flies right now in two of those mesh habitats made for butterflies. FLIES ARE AWESOME! I've tried roping the flies before but they usually got injured in the process, so I've stopped doing that. However, if you want to take the fly out of its habitat without putting it on a leash, you can trim the wings a little so it can't gain lift. Just make sure that you trim them enough because they can often still fly away.
anonymous on March 09, 2012:
i have a fly right now and i think im going to do this!
anonymous on August 01, 2011:
Flies are awesome and adorable!