Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to Catch Flies, ca. 1400

“If you have a room or floor in your dwelling infested with flies, take little sprigs of fern, tie them together with threads like tassels, hang them up, and all the flies will settle on them in the evening. Then take down the tassels and throw them outside… otherwise, tie a linen stocking to the bottom of a pierced pot and set the pot in the place where the flies gather and smear the inside with honey, or apples, or pears. When it is full of flies, place a platter over the opening, then shake it.”  
Le Ménagier de Paris (ca. 1400)
These flycatching remedies are from a handbook ostensibly written by a husband offering helpful advice to his teenaged wife. And, let’s face it: who cares whether they work for catching flies? Ladies, just imagine how impressed a husband would be by your decorative fern-tassels and honey-smeared socks.


  1. The second will actually work for fruit flies! Amazing when you find something that isn't nonsense.

  2. My grandparents used to throw the ferns on the fire. That way, they wouldn't return.