Horseflies are more than a nuisance to people like Rebecca King.
She’s the owner of Triple C Farm, which is located on Bucksnort Road just outside of Covington. She boards horses and when there’s not a global pandemic going on she gives horse riding lessons.
King and her horses have battled horseflies for years. The winged-pests can cause horses to have foot problems and contract various diseases. Fighting horseflies also causes horses to tire out quicker than they normally would.
Until recently, it was a losing battle.
That’s where the Black Widow comes in.
There are quite a few catchers and various sprays on the market designed to deal with the problem and over the years King tried just about all of them with little success.
“I’ve tried just about every spray out there and my boarders have tried a bunch of stuff,” King said. “Spray only repels horseflies, and it really doesn’t work at that. Well, I thought, if I can’t repel them how can I catch them?”
She had been coming up with her own catcher for several years. One was called the Terminator. Another was named the Godfather.
They worked pretty well, but none competed with the Black Widow.
It’s a three-foot by two-foot tray that sits atop a barrel in which you put water and dishwashing liquid.
Horseflies can get out of water. The dishwashing liquid traps them.
What makes it unique are two polycarbonate shields that are attached to the tray at a 45-degree angle. Because horseflies circle their prey, they fly into the shields and meet their demise in the tray.
She finalized the design in 2016 and filed for a U.S. patent the following year. The patent is still pending, but she’s already sold about 200 Black Widows, mainly to friends and neighbors.
One of her customers bought two of the catchers and placed them on each side of his driveway. More than 800 horseflies were caught in 12 hours.
They are also available at walmart.com, R & J Fee in Jackson, Tenn. and Tri-County Farm Services in Hernando, Miss. She’s sold about 200 Black Widows since 2016.
A U.S. patent lends legitimacy to any product and King does not want anybody copying her idea.
“It’s a unique item that is easily copied in different ways,” King said. “If I didn’t get a patent on it everybody and their grandmother could be making them … I’m not looking to get rich of this because they’re only $125.”
King and her husband, Steve King, make the Black Widows in their barn. She said they can make as many as 30 in a day if needed.
Their daughter, Tasha Elder, handles marketing and manages the web site, www.bwhorseflycatcher.com.
There has not been an overwhelming demand yet, but that could change with a patent and more exposure.
“It really hasn’t taken off,” King said. “I have to be honest; I don’t think they think it works, but I tell you this: I have not had one returned.”
Acquiring a U.S. patent is not cheap. King did not want to say how much it costs, but she has hired an attorney to handle it.
“The way I explain it is you take your wife to the Cadillac dealership and pick the most expensive car on the lot,” she said. “Get the cooling seats, sun roof, everything. You sit it in the drive way and you can’t touch it. That’s what a patent is like.”
Anyone interested in purchasing a Black Widow can go the website or e-mail King at firstname.lastname@example.org.