“ Brand: Backyard Safari „
This is my own review, plus that of my eight year old son below as he is not old enough for a dooyoo membership.
I'm not squeamish where it comes to creepy crawlies. Most of the time I am happy enough to scoop them up in my hands and carry them to the nearest window. Some however, like ants you always worry about squeezing a bit to hard. Others likes bees and wasps I do not like to touch for rather obvious reasons. There is the odd especially large and hairy spider I'd just as soon not hold, and of course if the bug happens to be sitting on a stinging nettle I hardly want to reach in and grab it.
My sons, like me, usually do not mind handling bugs. They do like to hunt bugs around nettle plants though, and they aren't too fond of nettle stings. They also like using this just because it is a fun gadget. Sadly, it introduces the phrase "batteries required" to the wholesome activity of bug hunting, but this is a toy where the child is an active participant, unlike many battery operated items.
What's in the box?
The bug gun which separates into three sections
An extra capture jar - so you can catch one bug and keep another.
A small fold out booklet with pictures of bugs (American).
A bug explorer patch.
4 AA batteries preinstalled.
I bought one of these an immediately ended up ordering a second gun as both boys wanted the patch and both always want to carry the gun on bug hunting expeditions. I was lucky enough to find these with amazon Warehouse deals as I check their site for educational toys daily. I believe I paid just over £10 for each. Currently this is selling for £15.99 from Amazon.
My sons have been trailing these about for roughly two months now. Both guns have been dropped several times, and there a few small scratches on the plastic, although the boys came in with more scratches on their knees. They did get the bright idea to hoover up construction gravel once and we thought the guns were broken, but a bit of shaking about to knock lose the gravel dust and both guns were as good as new. The three parts are very easy to disassemble to remove the catch jar and put back together again. My four year old has never had a problem, and even with weak hands I can do this myself as well.
The strength of the vacuum on this depends to some extent on the strength of the batteries, but it is quite sufficient to lift any small insect. It is too strong however for butterflies and should never be used for this as you could very easily damage wings. We have collected ants, a bee ( only as it was indoors) spiders, wood lice, millipedes, harvestmen and flies. I have advised the boys not to use this for slugs as I don't want to clean out the slime. The batteries were only a cheap make, but have lasted 2 months with frequent use, which I consider very good.
The capture jars have a steel mesh on one end to allow the air to travel through with the vacuum and a magnifying glass door on the other end. When you are hunting the magnifying glass is tilted horizontally to allow the air flow and bug to be sucked in. When you catch something you turn the lever so that the magnifying glass covers the opening. The magnifying glass is not especially high powered but it is still a nice touch. These jars are meant as catch and release containers. We have a strict policy of observing the insect for a short time, taking notes if desired and releasing it in the same area it was captured in. Our main exception is flies, which are used to feed our carnivorous plants. If you wish to keep a bug for longer - a larger container is needed.
The bug identification chart was of little use as the insects are American, but you will find a few that live here as well. I would strongly recommend a UK insect identification book or ten ( we like books) to go with this gun.
The patch ended up far more exciting than I would have thought. I ended up buying the boys a flag to use as a banner and giving them a set number of tasks to earn a badge - much like one would in scouts. This ended up proving such a strong motivator that I have extended this with other patches and projects to get schoolwork completely in a flash by my oldest and get my youngest actively involved in studying all the subjects as well.
I would highly recommend this product to anyone with children who like creepy crawlies. It is a fun safe way to catch insects, and I do feel it is very educational as well, as they look up and identify different insects, learn about their habitats and diet, and whether they are helpful or harmful to people. Collecting insects has encouraged my sons to read books, to grow a garden to attract bugs and even to research which insects existed in prehistoric times.
But what if you hate bugs? If the sight of a huge spider sends you running to the neighbours for help then I would strongly suggest buying this product as well. Why? Quite simply it means you can vacuum up and dump outside any insect which invades your home. You don't have to disassemble the gun to get a closer look. You can just open the door again and dump the gun upside down to remove the occupant as we did with the honey bee.
My son's review:
Bug guns are a good tool for catching bugs. They suck the bug up when you pull the trigger into a catch jar. There is an extra jar so you can catch more bugs and bring them inside for awhile. My Dad hates the bugs inside, but he hates it more if we carry them inside in our hands. We have not lost any bugs that were in jar except when my brother dumped some on the sofa.
My bug gun is from a company called Backyard Safari. They make a lot of good toys. I have the bug gun, the bug house, and the bug scope. They also make bug guns with laser lights, bug nets, belts to put your stuff in and a compass. I would really like to have the compass. Some of their sets have badges you can collect too. I have a bug badge with a beetle.
He went so far as to suggest I use the money from this review to buy the compass tool. I know where my next voucher is going as I'll have to buy two since the compass has badge as well.