HomeBlogHow to Use Tanglefoot


How to Use Tanglefoot — 22 Comments

    • Yes it’s ok.
      The Tanglefoot will withstand a lot of rain before it starts to dissolve off. Keep an eye on it and if it seems to be washing off then reapply it on a dry day.

  1. A much belated thank you for your response to my paper vs. plastic question above. Sorry it took me so long to respond. I still haven’t ventured into the plastic film — as I’ve just explained in a post (where you feature prominently) — but I still plan to. Some day! Thanks again for your website. It’s an amazing resource!

    • You’re most welcome! I’m so glad the information I gave was so helpful! Thank you very much for featuring it on your own website too, it’s an honour to be there!

      I’m glad you’ve found a method that’s effective for you and good for your area. The brown paper wrap definitely looks like it’s working well for you!

  2. We have a real issue with Winter Moths, last year they defoliated all the trees in my yard completely. I was thinking of using this product however, I am concerned for the squirrels that live in the trees. I don’t want this to harm them. Yes I know I like squirrels.

    Can you please advise on how I could use this product without harming the squirrels?

    • I wouldn’t hesitate to use it, it’s a natural non-chemical product. It’s just a seriously sticky one.

      All you need for the winter moth is the two bands of it three or four feet off the ground on the main trunk for a few months of the year (applied at two different times). The squirrels will just avoid that area and choose a different way up the tree(s).

      However, I did find other sources that say Tanglefoot is a good barrier for squirrels. But in my opinion it’s not, they’re smart (meaning they won’t just walk straight into the Tanglefoot goo and get stuck) and they can also jump long distances…including over the bands of Tanglefoot.

      They’ll adjust and be fine. You should be able to make a great reduction in the winter moth problem without causing any issues for the squirrels. Let me know how it goes.

    • I don’t think Tanglefoot would work on roses. It would be very difficult and prickly to apply. This product only works on the insects that walk up the tree branches and stalks. A lot of aphids are capable of flying short distances and could just skip right over the sticky barrier.

      I recommend making a natural pesticide spray yourself and spray it on the affected plants. Garlic oil spray is good but it’s non selective. This means that it will kill the aphids as well as the beneficial insects such as ladybugs who love to eat aphids.

      Try a tomato leaf spray. Take 2 cups of chopped tomato leaves and soak them in 2 cups of water for at least 12 hours. Next, strain out the pieces of leaves and add that liquid to a large spray bottle, then add 2 more cups of water. Your total mixture should equal about 1 litre in volume. Spray this on the rose bushes. It should kill the aphids quickly. Reapply as necessary. Then you can hose off the plant with plain water once they all die.

      Good luck! Let me know how the spray works for you.

    • I wasn’t able to find home recipes for anything that would produce a Tanglefoot like product and result in stopping insects. The consensus seems to be that there aren’t any comparable home recipes. I did however, read that some people have used petroleum jelly on the plastic wrap instead but I never have and don’t know how well it works.

  3. I’ve read it recommended to use tanglefoot on yellow boards to trap whiteflies. Looking at the viscosity of the product in the pictures here, it’s hard to imagine spreading a thin coat evenly over a large flat surface. Is there a way to dilute it with to a sprayable solution that would evaporate down to a sticky surface? Or is it easier than I’m imagining to spread on a large board? Surfaces might be as large as 2′ x 3′.


    • I agree, I think it would be a bit hard to spread it evenly on a large area using the product cold and “as is”. But I think you should be able to put some in a manageable size container and microwave it for just a little while to soften it up to more of a syrup type of consistency. Then you should be able to spread it pretty easily across the board. It should retain all of it’s stickiness that way.

      I don’t think diluting it down to a watery consistency would work, you’d most likely just gum up the sprayer nozzle and parts. I doubt the resin would recover to it’s previous viscosity thus causing the product to be less sticky and effective.

  4. Hi, thanks for the great post, found it when I went to remove tanglefoot. Unfortunately, I put it on my plum tree, somehow completely missed the “do not apply to fruit bearing trees ” in the directions. I have removed the tanglefoot, will the fruit be safe to eat? I am
    not sure what to do now. Do I need to destroy the fruit? Lots of birds and deer help meeat it.

    • Hi there

      Did you apply plastic or some type of wrap to the tree before putting on the Tanglefoot? or is the Tanglefoot actually on the bark of the tree?

      I re-read the label on the package I have here and it says not to apply it “directly” to young or fruit bearing trees, this means not to put it right on the bark of the tree.

      The fruit you have will be fine, I’ve used it on cherry trees for years. Tanglefoot is not poisonous to the fruit, you, animals or anything else. It’s fine to use on all trees.

    • No it’s not harmful, they’ll be fine as far as the product goes, it’s a completely natural gum resin that isn’t any danger to them. They’ll most likely avoid it and use other branches for getting around.

  5. Great post, and the photo play-by-play is the best resource I’ve found online! Thank you. This is my first foray into fruit tree pest tangling (wrangling?), and I’m curious about your preference for plastic wrap instead of the paper/cardboard option proposed by the manufacturer. I’m guessing you’ve tried both and decided that the plastic wrap works better? Would you be willing to explain the pros and cons of plastic instead of paper? Hoping to get this right the first time! 🙂 Thanks.

    • Hi 🙂
      Thank you! I’m happy the pictures are helpful for you. You’ll do just fine, the hardest part is keeping it off of yourself and your clothes! I have a few reasons for the plastic.

      The method that I show here (with the two stripes/plastic/cotton balls) was the way I was taught during my first experience with Tanglefoot, I didn’t even know about the cardboard at that point. It wasn’t until I started working in a retail nursery a few years later that I found out about the cardboard wrap.

      I think the cardboard wrap could be good if your tree is perfectly smooth, as it leaves gaps that the bugs can walk under unobstructed. It might work ok if you put cotton balls under it and secure it tightly to close those gaps though.

      Also, I don’t choose the cardboard because I live in a very rainy climate and the cardboard would disintegrate in no time at all. If your area is less rainy then it would probably be ok. I prefer the plastic too because it holds tight to the bark and stays put for the month or two that it’s on there.

      I’ve just continued to use the plastic/cotton balls method because it was simple and used items I already had at home, there wasn’t an additional product that I needed to buy.

      It’s just important to get the plastic off when the season is done or when the Tanglefoot becomes ineffective, the plastic allows no airflow for the bark. This would be a benefit to using the cardboard.

      Tell me if any of that helps and let me know how it goes on application day! 🙂

      • I’ll second the cardboard in rainy climate comment! I followed the manufacturers recommendation with their paper wrap. One rainstorm and the bands were around the bottoms of my trees. The crinkled paper relaxes a little when wet and then slides down the tree. I tried tightening them up again, but the whole situation repeated the next time it rained. I am trying the plastic wrap method now-we will see how it goes. The inherent waterproof nature of the plastic wrap has my hopes up. The price is a lot nicer too. I paid around $20 for 150′ of the recommended paper at my local garden center. For half the price, I picked up 3000′ of plastic wrap at BJ’s with convenient built in cutter, self-clinging property, and multiple other uses for unused product. The plastic wrap is also wider and catches more of the inevitable drips of Tanglefoot. The trickiest part is getting between the trunks of close growing multiple trunk trees. A little ingenuity and a stick got me through that though.

        • Well done! Glad you figured out a way to get the job done. The rain makes it a little more tricky but the plastic wrap method has always worked well for me and it costs almost nothing.

  6. I have a problem with squirrels jumping onto the 4X4 cross members to my bird feeders. Would this substance dissuade the varmints from hanging there to reach the feeders? This sounds like just the ticket to solve the ant problem we have had with hummingbird feeders. Thanks, Bruce

    • Hi Bruce

      Squirrels definitely are a bit of a challenge, they are crafty and acrobatic as I’m sure you know. The Tanglefoot won’t make a difference or deter them.
      Do your feeders have cages around them? You can make one or some feeders on the market are already enclosed in cages with small holes that the birds can get through but the squirrels cannot. Physical deterrents seem to work best.

      Cayenne pepper. You can mix a little cayenne pepper in with the bird seed. Mammals are sensitive to the heat of the capsicum but birds are not. The squirrels will likely move on to a less spicy meal. Also, using Nyger or Safflower seeds may help too, it’s not their first choice in food.

      Regarding the ants, are the feeders hanging in a tree? If so, you can apply the Tanglefoot on the branch it hangs from, before and after the feeder. That will catch any ants coming from within the tree. If not apply it to the most accessible branch…it’ll help some. In the past my feeders got clogged with spiders as well, Tanglefoot won’t stop them either.

      You can buy “Ant Moats” to hang above the feeder too (this would catch the ants and that the Tanglefoot misses).

      As a third option, you can choose to hang the hummingbird feeder under an overhang outside a second floor window. Choosing this location will stop many (if not all) of the ants.

      I hope this helps, let me know how it goes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *