Bug killer for a preschooler
July 15, 2017 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Child will be 4 soon. Multiple queries, weeks apart, for what he'd like for his birthday: bug killer?

Soon to be four year old does not like mosquitoes or flies. He wants a "bug killer" for his birthday. I think he wants a practical tool he can wield that will get rid of bugs. Not spray. What are some good ideas? Creative ideas are welcome.
posted by jillithd to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Bug zapper racket? (You can find ones with all kinds of safety mesh, but suggest adult supervision.)
Create a maker project for him for something similar without the electricity?
posted by gemmy at 6:23 PM on July 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

A bug vacuum maybe?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:24 PM on July 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Bug vacuum and a bug zapper near house doors.
posted by tilde at 6:45 PM on July 15, 2017

Maybe a small fan? That would "get rid of" bugs near him without encouraging killing animals you don't like as a hobby. Plus it's a nice way to cool off! (I'm not at all sentimental about mosquitoes, but I'd be disturbed by a child going out of his way to kill them, and I imagine you might be concerned if he generalized to stepping on ants / worms / caterpillars / frogs / ...)
posted by cogitron at 6:45 PM on July 15, 2017 [13 favorites]

A Bugzooka, which lets you catch and release bugs.
posted by Threeve at 7:04 PM on July 15, 2017 [9 favorites]

Is a Fly Swatter too old-school for today's 4-year-old? They really work!
posted by Rash at 7:15 PM on July 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

Fly swatter?
posted by slidell at 7:15 PM on July 15, 2017

Venus fly trap.
posted by aniola at 7:43 PM on July 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

Pitcher plant
posted by Crystal Fox at 7:58 PM on July 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

I had a bug gun per MonkeyToes' link. Never successfully killed a bug. Still a fun concept. Can't imagine a kid not liking it for at least a little while.
posted by mark k at 8:46 PM on July 15, 2017

One of those electrified tennis racket things like this. They are $5 at my local store and they are a godsend. Then send him over to my place. He can kill mosquitos to his little hearts content. Or a fly swat, those are good for flys. The tennis racket is far superior for mosquitoes though.
posted by fshgrl at 8:58 PM on July 15, 2017

I was originally thinking something like this bug zapper racket. Except the warning label says to keep out of reach of children, so... maybe not.

And now I really, really want one of those Bug-A-Salt things... one for me, and probably a couple for gifts!
posted by cgg at 9:02 PM on July 15, 2017

Hey, greetings from Mosquito Paradise (aka Finnish countryside), we consider ourselves practical experts here.

I would not get a bug zapping racket. We used to have those and even people with advanced motor skills got zapped, which is unpleasant. Also, I hated how zapping a larger insect stinks up the room with the smell of fried insect. But really, just not safe in the hands of a four year old.

I would get an ordinary fly swatter and maybe install screens and/or fly curtains. Maybe even a mosquito net around his bed, so he'll have a safe space.

I would also get him some kids' literature about insects and study it together. It might ease his mind to learn about the relative harmlessness of various kinds of bugs, and how interesting and varied they are. And also to realize that bugs are generally not out to get him, but rather have a fascinating little world of their own, with their own buggy life goals. And how very important they are as part of the natural world.

IME it's not very hard to guide a kid with a strong aversion towards a more neutral, non-fearful interest - the focus is already there. Just don't push things too fast. Start with looking at and talking about non-threatening bugs such as butterflies, and remember to acknowledge the fact that some bugs do look pretty scary, and their behavior can be annoying when it interrupts our picnics.

If you ever have the opportunity to catch and release a bug (such as a fly trapped inside a window, using a glass jar and a piece of cardboard), that's something kids easily get excited about. If his initial reaction is fearful, wait for the first wave of panic to subside. Maybe read up on kids' phobias and how to treat them.

We're having less mosquitoes this year than normally, and baby birds have been starving. Makes you appreciate the swarms of flying bird feed, no matter how much of a nuisance they can be.
posted by sively at 1:37 AM on July 16, 2017 [10 favorites]

Definitely a bug vacuum! This is by far the safest way to let a 4-year-old handle insects, it's humane (doesn't make killing "fun"), and this one doesn't even use a battery - just suction.
posted by amtho at 4:55 AM on July 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

My son at this age loved my moms oldfashioned fly swatter. We spend summer at her house in the country so flies are a thing and while he hardly ever got one it was a help for him as in the city we hardly ever see ordinary flies. He also was and is petrified of spiders, we gave him a duster (the kind made of mult colored nylon fibres from a dime shop) to shoo them away.
Also it did help to teach him basics on insects eg difference between bees, wasps, hornets, bumble bees, but basically he still is very wary of any insect.
posted by 15L06 at 12:10 PM on July 16, 2017

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