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Make a Bug Vacuum

Bugs are fun to watch, but not everyone likes to pick them up. Here's a handy tool, called a pooter, that lets you vacuum the critters into a collection jar without hurting them.

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Approximate Cost: Under $10
Duration: 1 to 60 minutes
Difficulty:
Physical Challenge:
  • Duct tape
  • Elastic band
  • Very small bottle or jar, such as a spice bottle
  • Magnifying glass (optional)
  • Small square of old pair of panty hose, cheese cloth or any fine mesh
  • 2 feet of flexible plastic tubing, about 1/4-inch diameter, available at hardware stores and aquarium shops. (Plastic tubing works best, but you may substitute 2 flexible drinking straws.)
  • Scissors
  • Sharp tool (You only need this if you use a jar that doesn't already have holes in it. If you use a spice jar, you don't need it.)
Prepare your bottle.

If you are using a jar with a tight fitting lid, you'll need to make two holes in the lid of the jar. The holes should be just big enough to fit the tubing.

We found that when we used a recycled spice jar, the holes where the spices came out were exactly the right size for the tubing, and then we didn't need to punch any holes.

It works best with a very small jar. Otherwise, it's challenging when it comes to suck up the bug, to create enough air pressure.


Put mesh at the end of one tube.
Cut the tubing in half. Then put the mesh at one end. Hold it in place with the elastic band.
Insert tubing.
Insert the tubes into the lid. Make sure the end with the mesh goes inside the jar.
Tape any holes around the tubes.
The more air tight it is, the easier it will be for you to suck up the bug into the bottle.
Use the vacuum.

To use the vacuum, suck on the tube that is covered with the mesh. 

Look for a slow-moving, non-stinging bug that is smaller than your tube.

Place the open end of the other tube close to an insect. As you suck, the insect will be drawn into the jar.

The panty hose will keep it from going up the other tube and into your mouth. You may wish to mark the tube that you suck on by wrapping a rubber band around it.


Catch and observe bugs.

Once you have caught some bugs, study them with a magnifying glass before releasing them back into the wild.

If it's a hot day, remember that it will get hot inside the jar, so don't wait too long to release the bugs.


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