Warm trash bin + dog poop = FLIES
June 7, 2019 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything non-toxic I can spray or sprinkle in/on/around my large, wheeled municipal trashbin that will dissuade flies from being SO ATTRACTED to the (bagged) dog poop inside?

I have a dog that I walk 4-6 times a day. She poops on 1-2 of those walks, which I bag and bin. The problem is I live on the West side of a duplex and my immediate neighbor's house sits *way* back in their lot so said bin gets a lot of direct sun in the evenings. Come summer, the flies move in to get to that sweet hot dog shit. Our trash comes by once a week, so by the end of that time period there's a dozen or so poop bags in there.

I can't move the bin to a shadier location due to neighbor politeness/space constraints. I'm hesitant to somehow re-bag them in an alternate place due to plastics overuse (the poo bags I use are 'biodegradable', at least). I typically only use one kitchen trash bag a week and take it out the night before trash pickup. Is there something non-toxic I can mix in a spray bottle with water and splash my bin down with that will somehow make the flies less obsessed with my dog's poop?
posted by Ufez Jones to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Could you keep the poop-filled bags in a different, smaller container that sits in the shadier area? We have a metal can with a tightly-fitting lid for this purpose.
posted by teremala at 6:46 PM on June 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I keep a large coffee can with lid for the interim cat poop holder. It is possible to get a smell proof container for your house, that you dump on garbage day.
posted by Oyéah at 7:41 PM on June 7, 2019

I also keep poop bags in a separate, shaded can. If you don’t want to re/use an additional plastic bag, you could always use a paper bag as a liner.

The pooch is adorable!
posted by quince at 7:43 PM on June 7, 2019

If you want to fix this problem with money, you could buy a pet genie. It's like a diaper genie but for pets. (Or you could probably get a diaper genie.) Or, if you don't rent and space permitting, you could get a doggie dooley, which is like a little dog septic tank that you bury in your yard.
posted by Weeping_angel at 7:56 PM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Make sure your biodegradable bags are truly that (FTC 2015 press release), and check the laws in your area -- some pet owners avoid the bin entirely by flushing dog waste (specialty bag examples). Yes, it's counterintuitive; please read the links which describe landfill immortality vs. waste being addressed in a treatment plant. (And I would hope human urine accompanies any bagged poop during this journey.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:23 PM on June 7, 2019

You could put the bagged poop in your freezer until trash day.

You could mount a strong fan over the bin; flies can’t maneuver in a stiff breeze and will largely be unable to land and exploit your resources.

Also if you provide some infrastructure you’ll have spiders moving in soon.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:28 PM on June 7, 2019

The fundamental problem here is that the inside of a sealed plastic bag at the bottom of a sun-warmed bin is just the wrong place to store dogshit.

Sealing it up in plastic bags makes a perfect environment for all the anaerobic bacteria in the shit, which they will continue to decompose anaerobically to produce the customary range of strong smells that make human beings want to gag and flies want to come and lay eggs.

Most of the volatile scent compounds produced are quite capable of diffusing through plastic films. And as you've found, keeping all those anaerobes happy in a nice warm environment is about the kindest thing you can do for them. The only way you could pamper them even more is by adding some kind of non-toxic liquid to the bin to make a lovely bin juice soup.

Aerobic decomposition is a lot less stinky. You can achieve that by starting a shit storage bucket with two inches of damp sawdust over the bottom, emptying your shit bags onto the surface of the sawdust, then dumping in a little more sawdust to achieve about an inch of cover over the newly added shit. This is the same principle used to manage the collection buckets in the Loveable Loo described in the Humanure Handbook, and it works every bit as well for dogshit.

If you keep a small bag of the same damp sawdust with you when you're out and about with the dog, it's pretty easy to add some to any bag you're about to pick up turds in. This will considerably reduce the amount of shit that sticks to the inside of the bag, possibly to an extent that tips re-using them over to the right side of the eww gross barrier. You can also use a bit of damp sawdust to scrub a used bag out after emptying it; even if you don't then end up re-using that bag, this will render it pretty inoffensive as trash goes.
posted by flabdablet at 10:03 PM on June 7, 2019 [11 favorites]

I have no idea if this would work, but if you threw a bunch of dry ice in the bin, it would sublimate to CO2, and since CO2 is heavier than air, it would stay at the bottom of the bin (for how long, I have no idea). I would expect that any flies entering the CO2 layer would get knocked out and asphyxiate.
posted by ShooBoo at 12:38 AM on June 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have no idea if this would work

I do. It wouldn't.

If stink molecules can diffuse out of the bin, so can carbon dioxide molecules. Once the dry ice had finished sublimating, which it would probably take less than an hour in a sun-warmed bin, the gas would clear from the bin within a day.

The reason asphyxiation traps form in places like drain inspection pits are that the normal apertures between the enclosed space and atmosphere are very very small compared to the volume of the space. In a domestic wheelie bin, they are not.

Carbon dioxide is also going to do nothing at all to slow down the anaerobic decomposition that's attracting the flies in the first place.
posted by flabdablet at 1:53 AM on June 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

This composting dog feces thread from the forums at permies.com has some ideas that might be of use to you.
posted by flabdablet at 2:34 AM on June 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Mint oil is a natural insect repellent and insect killer, although I don’t know if it would be strong enough to overcome the poop smell. I use this stuff around the house and in that context it’s very good at keeping bugs away.
posted by a strong female character at 7:31 AM on June 8, 2019

Can you alter your walk so your throwing the poop away in a public can that gets emptied with Heather frequency?
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 10:09 AM on June 8, 2019

Biodegradable bags do not do so in a landfill. They are, however, sufficiently more porous than regular bags to contribute greatly to stink, in my experience. They are also thicker than regular trash dog waste bags, paradoxically causing you to dispose of more plastic. So, if you are continuing to landfill your dog waste, please just use regular bags.

I would not use Flush Puppies or similar plastic "flushable" bags. They claim to breakdown in water, but I left some in water in my house for over a week with no detectable degradation. If they jam up in your sewer pipe, that's hundreds of dollars.

I switched to Poita bags. You still throw some plastic away, but it's better to landfill plastic than burning it, you've reduced landfill volume by 99%, and your smell problem is gone. There are a lot more important problems than that last 1%.
posted by flimflam at 10:18 AM on June 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

You could hang some glue traps around to get the flies. Different kinds work on different bugs (color and the like).

I have no idea if this would work for you, but sprinkling borax into an indoor trash can helps diminish the smells. You could try that.

+1 on diatomaceous earth
posted by Neekee at 6:59 PM on June 8, 2019

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