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Published on May 5th, 2011 | by Ruth

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Vacuum Up Bugs with Backyard Safari

In a cul­ture con­stant­ly seek­ing to hold on­to the fleet­ing wisps of youth (usu­al­ly through mois­tur­iz­ers, sun­screen, cars and fash­ion), we de­cid­ed to try a dif­fer­ent ap­proach with some back­yard sa­fari gear. Back­yard Sa­fari cre­ates a huge line of sup­plies for kids play­ing out­doors. We tried Field Binoc­u­lars, the Ad­ven­tur­er Kit, and the Bug Wran­gler’s Ex­treme Suc­tion Bug Vac­u­um.

 

One web­site ad­ver­tis­es the Bug Vac­u­um with “SNEAK UP ON BUGS AND SUCK ‘EM UP!” which would have ap­pealed to us im­mense­ly as chil­dren- we’ll pre­tend that it doesn’t hold charm now. De­spite the draw of the idea, we found our­selves a bit dis­turbed by how grue­some vac­u­um­ing bugs sounds, but we were re­lieved to find that they are fine wan­der­ing around in one of the two “catch and re­lease cap­ture cores.” The built-in mag­ni­fy­ing glass makes it easy in­spect the an­ten­nae, meta­pleu­ral glands, and the like of ants who dared ven­ture near us. We found it for $34 on Amazon.com. We think it’ll de­light kids, and found an un­ad­ver­tised side-use for squeamish adults who want to trans­fer an in­sect from the kitchen floor to the great out­doors while min­i­miz­ing con­tact.

 

We were a lit­tle less ex­cit­ed about the Ad­ven­tur­er Kit. The lantern is cool and use­ful, but a lit­tle bor­ing. The wa­ter-tight case would be nice for kids re­al­ly in­to con­tain­ers, but al­so didn’t cap­ture our imag­i­na­tion. The re­tractable cara­bin­er clip has a lit­tle more In­di­ana Jones ap­peal, but as adults we wor­ried that the ad­ven­tur­ous kids this kit is de­signed to ap­peal to would be the same kids to try to use it to sup­port their own weight in tree-climb­ing ad­ven­tures, rather than just at­tach­ing toys to it. We’d buy old­er kids a re­al one in­stead, just to be on the safe side… The “es­sen­tial field guide” turns out to be main­ly a cat­a­log for oth­er prod­ucts. We thought it was a bit lame to pitch that as a fea­ture. Ev­ery though it’s on­ly just over $11 on Ama­zon, we could take it or leave it.

We thought that the Back­yard Sa­fari Binocs, at $12 on Ama­zon, are a much bet­ter val­ue for the mon­ey. The binoc­u­lars are plas­tic and light-weight, and kids will have fun haul­ing them around. Though the man­u­fac­tur­er rec­om­mends them for ages 5-12, we would on­ly sug­gest them for the 5-8 year olds. They are re­al­ly much more toy-qual­i­ty, and will be fun, but it seemed like­ly that ours would break af­ter a cou­ple tum­bles. The vi­su­al qual­i­ty is low enough that as kids are re­al­ly in­ter­est­ed in mag­ni­fy­ing stuff from a dis­tance, it would prob­a­bly be bet­ter to in­vest in a re­al pair. Still, for $12 they’re fun.

 

Bot­tom line, we think that the bug vac­u­um is awe­some, and would make a great gift for any­one. We’re less im­pressed with the oth­er prod­ucts we tried out, but at least like the idea.

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About the Author

The ampersand tattoo on her shoulder goes a long way towards explaining Ruth's outlook on life: there's always an "and." With TrulyNet, Ruth enjoys working on social media and writing... and editing... and... Ruth went to the University of Oregon, where she studied music, dance and cognitive psychology (and sleeping very little). While there, she designed classes and taught arts enrichment to talented and gifted grade-school students. After graduation, Ruth spent several years as a Market Analyst at a large law firm in New York. Feeling the pull back to the west coast, Ruth moved to San Francisco and worked for Stanford for a year before deciding to focus on her passion for the arts. Ruth spends more time on Facebook that she cares to admit. When not attached to the computer, working for TrulyNet, or dancing, Ruth rock climbs, knits, swims, obsessively plays Boggle, plays games, plays tennis, cooks, sips beer, wine and whiskey, and travels seeking adventure.



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