In 1889, the 26-year-old “fly-paper murderess” Florence Maybrick was found guilty of poisoning her older wealthy British husband with arsenic from a dozen sheets of flypaper, mixed in a meat extract and administered through his packed lunch. (Maybrick’s passionate testimony won the hearts of the public, some of whom formed the “International Maybrick Association,” and her death sentence was commuted. ) In 1911, London insurance company superintendent Frederick Seddon poisoned his tenant, “spinster” Eliza Mary Barrow, and convinced her to appoint him the executor of her will on her deathbed.
Ever since the downstairs neighbor asked us to remove the bird feeder (it was attracting rats), guessing how many fruit flies we’ve trapped with our kitchen flypaper strip has become the primary source of excitement in our household.
For the record, the label on my own Pic flypaper states that it contains “NO POISONS” while also recommending it be kept out of the reach of children and domestic animals. (According to the admirably specific blog fliesonly dot com, flypaper strips contain a scent undetectable to humans but very attractive to flies.
Then there’s the correct way, where you delicately twist the cylinder like a champagne cork so that the flypaper (or “fly ribbon,” in industry parlance) unfurls into a flat, amber streamer of death, hanging like a diaphanous tongue over your cutting board of fresh snow peas.