Ethical insect catchers: do they really work?

Instead of dispatching creepie crawlies with bug spray; how about using a humane insect grabber to get rid of them? Ruth Styles took the Snapy and the Ethical Spider Catcher for a spin

Come on, admit it. Who hasn’t, on clocking a spider crawling along the back of the sofa, reached for a rolled up newspaper or can of Doom to dispatch the offending bug? It’s tough on the creepie crawlies but hey, that’s life, right? But according to Helen Wallis of the London Wildlife Trust, hardened bug bashers could be missing a trick. ‘Human survival depends on the army of insects that pollinate our food crops,’ she says. ‘Bees alone pollinate a third of everything we eat.’  So how can you enjoy a spider-free home without resorting to giving insects an inky death? There’s always the option of scooping them up with a piece of paper and launching them out the nearest window, but if you don’t want to run the risk of having one crawl up your arm, the new breed of humane bug trappers could be just what you’re looking for.

The Snapy Insect Catcher, £7.91, is a German innovation that looks a bit like a Perspex poop-a-scoop and allows you to trap bugs inside it thanks to its thin, sliding base. The Snapy’s British competition, the Ethical Spider Catcher, £12, employs a trigger handle attached to a 65cm long rod with a nylon-bristle brush which traps the bug. The big question though, is do they work? The Snapy is great on flat surfaces but doesn’t work so well in tight or uneven spaces thanks to its geometrical shape. The Ethical Spider Catcher, on the other hand, is more flexible and can reach those tight spots that the Snapy can’t. Unfortunately, getting the bug out of the bristles is easier said than done and you run the risk of having the insect jump onto your hand while trying to shake it off. The Snapy’s sliding mechanism, although handy for releasing bugs, can also be their doom as our tester discovered when he accidentally decapitated a ladybird while attempting to let it go. The verdict? Both have their pitfalls, but are considerably more humane than the rolled up newspaper route. Just be careful when letting your quarry go. 

The Snapy Insect Catcher is available from while the Ethical Spider Catcher can be purchased at the Natural History Museum shop

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