Introduction: Why Save a Bug? Catcher
We have a different concept of reality in our house. If you look at the second photo in this step, you'll see what I see when I look at a bug on our wall. The third photo shows the same bug, but how my wife sees it. It’s my job to protect her from such monsters.
Now my wife would be happy if I simply smashed the bug, or as I’ve caught her doing, cover it with half a can of bug spray.
I, on the other hand, feel all living things share a right to existence and life is as important to every one of them as mine is to me. I can’t kill pests unless they’re trying to eat me.
I’ve come up with a very successful device that solves both my wife’s problem and my dilemma. It's based on scientific principles and allows me to trap vrtually any small pest, including lizards.
Flies on walls are especially easily to catch, taken outside, and released.
Step 1: Fight or Flight
An insect’s fight or flight instincts are simple. If they see something that looks tasty, they fight for it. If a shadow that falls on them is large, they flea (OK, bad pun). Flies are especially good at avoiding predators which is why they’re so frustratingly difficult to target. Your hand, rolled up newspaper or fly swatter casts a pretty large shadow.
Unfortunately for pests, transparent plastic casts no large shadow. As far as an insect is concerned, it casts no shadow at all. By the time it realizes it's being targeted, the plastic cage of my bug catcher is on them and it’s too late. Of course, anyone who’s ever used a clear drinking glass to trap a fly on the wall, already knows this. Trouble is, once a hand is holding the bug under the glass, it’s very difficult for the other to reach anything to slip under the glass to keep the insect inside.
If you follow these concepts, you can build one of these and get rid of all those hard to catch pests... And save a bug’s life too… You might even feel better for it.
Step 2: Materials:
The most important part of the catcher is the clear plastic cover. Over the years, I’ve used just about everything from plastic lens cases to dry cleaning product covers. Whenever a friend tells me he or she needs one, I first locate a clear cap or cover and make the bottom part to match.
I’ve used three ways and several materials to make the lower part that slides under the cover and the bug thats inside. Each has its advantages. All involve the same basic slide.
Depending on the type of cover you use, the amount of engineering you want to invest and how you'd like the device to work will determine which method you choose to clamp the slide to the cover.
Step 3: Method 1
Make a case that slides over and entraps the cover. The one pictured was made from styrene plastic, a favorite building material of mine. It’s easy to cut and shape, welds well with methylene chloride or acetone and comes in nice big sheets that are good for hundreds of projects and store forever.
The most critical attribute of the slide is that it has a beveled edge for the bug to get over. Without it, the device will chop off legs and the poor insect will be miserable for the rest of its life. The bug in this instructable is fake. It's difficult enough trying to get an insect to perform, let alone hang around long enough to get its picture taken.
I made the case with an open top so I can see whether or not the bug is where it's supposed to be. It doesn't have to be this elaborate. A folded piece of aluminum flashing or a 3x5 card would be sufficient as long as it's stiff enough to hold the cover without bowing outward on the bottom.
When storing, keep the cover and slide locked together. When it's needed, it can be picked up, slid apart and used in seconds.
Step 4: Method 2
The simplest way to hold things together is friction. The cover I used for this is the largest one I've found and got it from a supermarket dry cleaning product. Trying to entrap something this big would be cumbersome, so I used bits of mahogany and styrene to form a clip that holds tightly to the sides of the cover.
The design of the clamp I made is simple, but has one disadvantage. The cover can slide vertically as easily as it slides horizontally. Just remember not to pull up on the cover when there's a bug inside and you'll be fine.
The wings of the clamp have ends shaped to force the cover closed. Along with pressure from the sides, this additional force towards the rear makes accidental release less likely.
Because this is the largest, it's the one my wife usually hands me when she's being attacked. If it could be larger, she'd be even more confident that the bug in picture three will fit underneath.
This is the one I use for lizards when they wander in.
Step 5: Method 3
The most elaborate is one like I made for my parents in their basement using what bits I could find. A one piece device that makes any error in sliding and carrying a bug away less likely. Of course, this also throws a pretty large shadow, but if you're quick enough and the clear portion is large enough or the entire device can be made from clear plastic, it should perform very well.
Basically, it uses a cover attached to a flat strip which in turn, is entrapped by a slide made from a formed sheet of aluminum. The slide moves back and forth openining and closing the opening at the end of the strip under the cover.
Wooden stops at either end of the strip prevent the slide from coming off the ends and stops it in the fully open and fully closed positions. This setup keeps everything together, preventing the parts from being in two different places when it's needed... And you find yourself in the glass on the wall scenario.
I'm sure hundreds of ingenious ways to make one of these can be found. The only factors that remain constant are:
1. A clear cage
2. A thin or beveled edged slide
3. Some way of holding the two together
Step 6: How to Use It
Operation is simple.
1. Spot the prey
2. Sneak up on it
3. Slowly move the clear cover over it (remember, it's not making any shadow, but your hand and arm are, so try to keep everything that's not transparent out of the bug's immediate vicinity)
4. Slam the cover down over the bug
5. without lifting the cover, slide the bevel of the lower portion under it. The beveled edge allows you to do this very easily.
6. Nudge the bug over the edge and onto the slide by continuing to slide the lower portion further under the cover. Most often, the bug will do this on its own, but some just don't get it and have to be persuaded. This is a dangerous situation for the bug and sometimes accidents happen when legs and things get trapped between sliding parts.
7. Carry the device outside with the bug inside. Once away from the house, pull the cover and slide apart and yell "Be free!". Sometimes, the bug kind of likes being where it is and needs to be shaken out. Other times, you might want to just slide the cover partially open and let the bug walk out on its own.
Any way you do it, I'm sure you'll find this is the easiest and most sure way of capturing insects. It's also humane and kind of fun, being on safari hunting monster sized bugs and all.