Fun and Games

Make a pooter

As part of keeping some insectivorous (eats insects) invertebrates I have developed some pieces of equipment which made caring for these animals easier and which you may find useful.

I often had problems transferring fruit flies from the culture container into the cage of the insect or arachnid I intended to feed. To help with this I developed a small version of an aspirator or pooter. Now we can suck the flies into the pooter from the culture container then blow them into the cage of the insect/arachnid we intend feed. It is much less fuss and we have far fewer escapees.

The pooter is also an essential piece of equipment for any field entomologist. It's the perfect way to capture small insects for closer study.

You will need

Making the pooter

Warning: You will need to use sharp knives, scissors and a drill so please make sure your parents/carers are happy that you can do this or ask them to do these bits for you.

  1. Cut one piece of tube to approximately 25cm long. This will leave a second about 20cm long.
  2. Make a hole in centre of the lid and the bottom of the film container, make the holes just large enough to be a tight fit when you push the tubing through. I use a drill for this.
  3. Push 2cm of tubing through the hole in the lid so that it will be inside the container when the lid is on.
  4. Place the square of cotton over the short end of the tube so that it too will be inside the container when the lid is on. Secure with sticky tape. This will be the mouth piece tube.
  5. Now push 2cm of tubing through the hole in the bottom of the canister, again the 2cm is to be inside the container when the lid is on. Some sticky tape around the tube inside the canister will ensure the tube doesn't pull out while in use. This will be the collecting tube.
  6. Clip the canister together and it is ready for use.

Using the pooter

  1. Put the end of the mouth piece tube in your mouth.
  2. Put the collecting tube into the culture jar and suck the fruit flies into the tube. The fruit flies will be collected in the film canister. They can't be sucked into your mouth because the cotton will stop them. Once you have sufficient stop sucking.
  3. Close the culture jar.
  4. Go to the insect to be fed and gently blow, the fruit flies will be blown out of the film container and into the recipients cage.

Remember: a pooter is a vital piece of equipment for any entomologist. You can use it to collect tiny insects when you're out in the field.

An illustration of a pooter.

By Ray Crisp