Make Your Own Insect Pooter!
What on earth is a Pooter???
Insect Pooters or Aspirators are like little vacuum cleaners for sucking up insects. Quite often entomologists have to collect small insects like flies and ants that can be very difficult to pick up with your fingers. Instead, we use a Pooter to suck the insects up off the ground or the plant they are sitting on. They are trapped inside a glass jar where you can observe them closely.
What you need:
- Clean empty jam jar with a lid
- Hammer & nail or a drill
- 50cm of clear plastic tubing (approx 8mm in diameter)
- Rubber Band
- A small piece of mesh or fly screen (approx 50c coin size)
- An adult to help you
Tip* Ask an adult to help you with this step, as it can be dangerous. Get an adult to punch or drill two small holes into the lid of the jam jar. Make sure the holes are placed around 5cm apart and not too close to the edges. The holes should be around 8mm in diameter (so that the plastic tubing fits tightly in the holes). Make sure you get an adult to help with the holes!
Plastic tubing is available from hardware stores and aquariums. Make sure you don’t go too much wider than 8mm in diameter, as you will have to suck a lot harder to pick up your insects. Measure 20cm along the plastic tubing and make a small mark using a felt pen. Cut the plastic tubing on this mark using a pair of scissors. This will leave you with two pieces of tube (one 20cm length and one 30cm length).
Push a piece of tube into each hole, sliding it down so that around 5cm of tube is down into the jar. Make sure the tubes fit nice and tight. If you have cut your holes too large, try pushing some blue-tac around the edges to ensure a tight fit.
Unscrew the lid from the jar and turn it upside down. Using the rubber band, secure the piece of mesh tightly over the end of the shortest length of tube. Put the lid back on and your pooter is finished!
To use your pooter, place the shortest plastic tube in your mouth and aim the longer tube at the insects you want to catch. Suck hard through the short tube and your insects will be whisked up and into your waiting jar.
Make sure you always use the shorter tube to suck through - this one should have its end covered with mesh. The mesh stops the insects from being sucked straight up into your mouth! So unless you want a mouthful of wiggling creepy crawlies make sure you always check that you have the right end before you suck (trust me – I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way)!