It's possible you may have seen some old black and white film comedies from the 1930s through the 1940s where someone was always getting stuck on a flat piece of flypaper. Well, that was no stage prop...that stuff – flypaper – was created here in Michigan...Grand Rapids, to be exact.

Nowadays most of us who are bugged by flies during the summer use those sticky fly ribbons that unfurl and hang from your porch roof...not much – if any – sheets of flypaper are used these days.

The company that made these and other insect-eliminating things is the Tanglefoot Company, created by William Thum in 1885. Thum invented and patented a sticky substance from castor oil, resin, and wax, that ended up being much more effective and long-lasting than other competing flypapers. Thum also came up with an adhesive that was used on trees to keep the insects from damaging them.

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Thum's flypaper was patented in 1887 and a factory soon followed, on the corner of Hemlock and Straight streets. The flypaper was extremely successful, as the fly population was unbearable in summer. Horse poop. dog poop, and garbage were the main contributors to the massive fly swarms. People and businesses were buying lots of Thum's products, making him a rich man.

More products followed and soon the whole world was using Thum's Michigan-based insect products. However, as time marched on, simple, easier bug killers soon appeared: numerous aerosol bug sprays started to permeate the market. Automobiles saw the end of mass horse transportation. Screens were installed in home windows to keep flies out...these factors all made sales of Thum's flypaper products take a nosedive.

The Tanglefoot factory still stands and is a reminder of what once was...and guess what? It still makes many insect control products. You can find out more on their webpage here!

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