Grand Rapids is the home to a lot of manufacturing...from office furniture, to vacuums, to car parts, and more -- including flypaper!

With the summer weather, also arrives those darn flies that are such pests while we are trying to enjoy some time outdoors.

Back in 1885, horse-drawn carts were the way people got around. That meant a lot of horses and that means a lot of manure in the streets. Many homes back then did not have screens, so flies became a problem both outdoors and indoors. A pharmacist named William Thum founded a business that became Tanglefoot.

They developed an adhesive that used castor oil, resins and wax. This blend didn't soak through the paper backing, and lasted longer than its competition. The design was patented in 1887, and soon fly paper was being shipped around the world from the plant in Grand Rapids.

After automobiles became available and homes were build with screens, flypaper wasn't used as much. Plus, people were turning to aerosol bug killers to manage flies. The company almost went out of business. Now, with people interested in finding less toxic products, they are once again turning to flypaper.

The business is still in existence today, located at 314 Straight Ave, SW. They make not only flypaper, but a variety of garden products (which can be found at Flowerland, Meijer and Walmart). About a year ago, the company was sold to a Canadian company called Contech Enterprises, based in Victoria, British Columbia.

Who would have thought that something like flypaper had it's origins in Grand Rapids?!

Oh, and just a word of caution. This comes from personal experience...if you are somewhere that has flypaper hanging the from ceiling -- be careful not to walk into it. What a sticky, gooey mess -- with embedded dead flies. Yuck!!!

 

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