Snapy Insect Catchers, and the Little Lessons of Veganism
July 22, 2011

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One of the disadvantages of living in a warm, cozy, altogether adorable Hobbit House is that you have to share it with bugs. Many, many bugs. Big ones, little ones, cute ones, scary ones, and even some rambunctious crickets.

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Last night, I trapped and released a bug the size of a computer mouse in my living room. It appeared to be a giant, noisy, very mobile wasp. Sort of like this guy:

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Up close, and personal.

No less than a few months ago, this little incident would have terrified me to the point of paralysis. I’d probably have called M (possibly in tears), and relived the essence of this scene, substituting the word “wasp” for “spider.”

Fortunately, I have a new way of managing my relationship with bugs, and it involves this

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Meet the Snapy. I received this wonderful contraption through friends at PETA, and you can find it via their online store. In essence, you place the open device over a flying critter (or, if you can, let the critter fly into it) and then quickly close it (using a simple button). You can then release your insect outside.

Those of you who are learning about veganism may not quite understand why vegans extend compassion to bugs; the truth is that we’re all so frightened of bugs that we have a hard time mustering up any reverence for their life. But learning to revere life—even when it runs contrary to the way we’ve been socialized—is precisely what becoming vegan is all about.

When I was little, I loved to hear about the lives of the Catholic saints, even though I wasn’t raised Catholic: parables of all sorts appealed to me, and I loved to extract meanings from these stories with my Mom. My favorite story by far was that of St. Francis of Assisi, who not only loved and felt compassion for animals, but who served them faithfully, preaching to flocks of birds and stopping to admire turtles. He’s been quoted (fictitiously, no doubt) as saying: “Not to hurt the creatures brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission – to be of service to them wherever they require it.”

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My favorite story of St. Francis involved his stopping on a busy thoroughfare to scoop up (and thus save from horses pedestrians) a tiny critter. I honestly don’t remember if it was a turtle, or lizard, or bug, or mouse. It was small enough to be ignored by human beings—just the way many smaller animals often are. Years later, it struck me as interesting and apt that the story had moved me so deeply as a child. The message resonated with me for reasons that weren’t obvious to me then, but would be later.

Of course, it’s easy to forget about one’s reverence for life when confronted with a giant, angry bug. Most people would feel some revulsion, myself included, and I’m not about to argue that we should all muster up some particular fondness for insects. (If we can, that’s great, but it’s a tall order.) Veganism, though, isn’t about your individual relationships with particular species. If you happen to find veganism through your special relationship with a dog or cat, or because you work in a pig sanctuary for a summer, or you become a marine biologist with a special love for dolphins, great: go share that love with the world! But veganism isn’t about one animal in particular, and it doesn’t exclude the animals you don’t happen to feel a very close kinship with. All veganism asks is that we extend our respect to all living things, recognize the value of their lived experiences, and do them no harm.

And that’s where some of the less intuitive stuff—like treating bugs gently, or not eating honey—comes into play. Maybe you have a hard feeling compassion for a creature (in this case, a wasp) that scares you. It doesn’t really matter: you don’t have to have tea with the wasp. You simply have to remind yourself that all life is valued by those who live it. Freeing insects is an extension of a world view that’s founded on the idea of not doing harm. It’s a daily practice of a broader principle.

And little devices like a Snapy, or humane mouse traps like this one:

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(Courtesy of Almost Vegan)

…help us to remember what the lifestyle is all about.

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If you’re in a bug-prone home, I encourage you to give this all a little thought, and think about a Snapy of your own. You and I can trap and free bugs in a spirit of shared compassion.

With a healthy dose of girly terror thrown in Winking smile

Night all.

xo

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    58 Comments
  1. Ha! What a cool contraption. We’re always trying to make up contraptions. I keep a plastic container by the front door for all those little salamanders and geckos that we find inside…to put them in and let them out outside. This thing is cool…I’m gonna go look it up right now!

  2. My sister and I our entire lives have been rescuing helpless insects in our homes..and why do we get such crazy looks?? I will never understand. Why kill an innocent creature who probably is more scared than you are because they’re trapped in a house and not outdoors?? Let it free people!

    I just emailed the link for the insect catcher to my husband. Its so funny you posted this today because just the other night a beetle came inside after we were out with the dog. I srceamed (of course) and my hubs gently picked it up with a kleenex and went to flush it. I protested (loudly). He grumbled and put it outside. I told him to buy this for me, for next time. 😉

    xo Kat

  3. Thank you. Who’s to say that insects and/or bugs are not as significant as us humans? Thanks for giving insects and/or bugs a voice. We are too quick to squash.

  4. What a wonderful post, Gena- so out of the ordinary and something many of us vegetarians/vegans don’t think about 🙂 I always get so upset when someone kills a insect or animal so I’m sure the snappy would come in handy for me!

  5. Interesting post! This is a topic my husband and I have thought about (and gone back and forth a little on) for years.

    I don’t mean to nitpick, but what about an infestation? For instance, if you had fleas in your house? It becomes a trickier issue then in my opinion, as you can’t just escort those guys out…

    Anyway, love that you bring things like this up! I often feel like people look at us like we’re a little crazy when we capture and release insects from our home.

  6. Once I saw a friend’s mom gently scoot a bee out of the house with a sheet of paper. When her daughter acted astounded, saying, “Mom, aren’t you TERRIFIED of bees?!” she replied, “Yes, but it’s not his fault his mother was a bee.” For some reason, this simple statement resonated with me. I always try to be gentle with insects now.

  7. I think that this is a great thing to bring up, especially the ‘up close and personal’ part. The terror of bugs that is prevalent in our civilization extends to the invisible bugs and ‘germs.’ I am taken aback occasionally, when someone refuses to eat something because it might have touched something else and thereby be unclean, or when someone washes even peelable fruits in case ‘germs’ get in on the knife.

    On the other hand, I, too, have had my moments of discomfort with bugs, especially biting and noisy ones. I also worked with bees for a few years (and did my time getting stung head to toe too) and learned to really love and revere them.

    I think that the mindless killing of bugs goes along with the horror people feel for them, and I love that you bring both into the equation.

  8. Wow, Gena I love how you connected your childhood experience to who you are today. I remember having carpenter ants in our house when I was maybe 7 and I would collect them and bring them outside, so they weren’t exterminated. That’s one nifty device, fortunately, NY is relatively bug free in my experience.

  9. very cool contraptions! next time I have a critter problem, I will so go this route! IF someone (braver than I) does it FOR me, that is… (I am the world’s biggest WIMP! I once had the doorman of my building dispose of a dead mouse in my apartment, and in exchange, I bought him a slice of pizza. I could not bring myself to do it!! True story.)

    and I think what you said is true: veganism is not just about standing up for the cute, furry, nice animals. It’s about respecting life, and avoiding (where possible) causing unnecessary suffering on other beings. It’s a beautiful thing! 🙂

  10. woah! Not five minutes ago I was trying to catch a little spider on a piece of paper to take him outside. He ran off the paper and fell to the floor and then i couldnt find him again. i told him, “hope i don’t step on you little guy!” The snappy is the answer! Thanks for sharing!!

  11. This is such an awesome way to get over my insect fear. I don’t want to kill them when I see one in the house, but I don’t want to get near it as well, in case if it flies or something!!!

    That wasp thing looks so scary!

  12. I don’t think that contraption would work for ants or silverfish, would they? Can you imagine catching and releasing an ant—-they would probably turn right around and come back in.

  13. haha… I have bugs sometimes here too.. In fact, I had this strange infestation of bugs several years ago and I literally got down on the floor and asked them to leave. I told them that if they didn’t they would probably be killed … and they left and have never returned. The only bug like thing I kill is ticks. The second I see them. I hate them.

    The humane mousetrap thing is great.. until you realize that if you’re not home for a 24 hour period and come home and see they bashed themselves to death trying to get out. (I had a mouse problem many years ago when I lived in Iowa and was sooo horrified to come home to that.. but I would NEVER use a kill trap)

  14. I so need a Snapy!! I was laying on the floor this morning goofing off with my bunny when I saw movement about 1 inch from my head…I jumped up and it was a spider! I have no idea where it had come from except maybe from on ME! Augh! I was so freaked out that I smashed it…I usually try to catch them with a cup and take them outside 🙂

  15. Wonderful post. Gets you thinking for sure.
    When you first showed pics of your adorable Hobbit House I was actually thinking since you are surrounded by so much nautre if there would be bugs. I remember once reading an article that there was a company that had flying insect problems but in the whole building there was only one room that was free of insects…..it was the room where they were experimenting with essential oils. Facintating. Good one’s to try is peppermint or spearamint and it makes the home smell so fresh. You can mix for example in a small spray bottle peppermint essential oil with water and spray it any here you want or as a room freshener. Just a thought.

  16. I am still really scared of bugs and rodents. Not sure I could handle this. I might hire someone to do it for me. I’m still not sure why bugs were created (maybe to help pollinate?). I just know that I am deathly afraid of anything creepy-crawly!!!

    I loved the story you shared about St. Francis. 🙂

  17. Gena! I am legitimately excited right now. My new (well, I’ve been here for a few months now) apartment gets so many visits from creepy spiders! I always resort to the slide-a-piece-of-paper-under-a-cup trick to put them outside, but this Snapy thing is brilliant! I most definitely need one. Thank you!

  18. Oh my gosh, I have to get the Snapy! I always try to get bugs using the cup method but that never works very well. I think I want to get one for my classroom too. The kids would love it!

  19. The Snapy looks awesome, I might need one! I feel the same way about bugs and have become less afraid of them since going vegan even sparing the lives of black widows. Currently I have a drawer of saved jars that come in handy for catching and releasing insects, but the Snapy looks much better!

  20. Thank you so much for suggesting this product! I have a completely irrational fear of spiders, but in the past year, I’ve finally mastered using a cup and paper to trap and release them. (Even a huge one that was on my BED!) This looks much easier!

  21. Very thought-provoking! I just posted about a fruit fly problem and how they skeeve me out, but I really like this perspective on bugs. I don’t necessarily want bugs dead, I just prefer them to not be in my indoor space. Snapy seems like a good solution!

  22. I used to live in a house in rural Northumberland (UK) which was infested by mice. They chewed the back off the washing machine, through the bottom of my favourite bag and started eating one of the sofa cushions, for the purpose of collecting kapok for their nests. I invested in several humane traps and each night spent half an hour daubing the inside of each trap with chocolate spread to lure the little creatures in. Imagine astonishment in the mornings when I got up and went downstairs to discover that the mice had got into the traps, removed the chocolate spread and got out again, unscathed. I even had track marks on my carpets where the intrepid creatures had rolled the chocolate spread across the floor to the nearest skirting board, chewed through that and pushed their trophy home. I wish I’d set up a camera to capture these intricate antics.
    Glad to see that there is a humane way to capture insects. I’ve never been able to bring myself to harm spider etc. A sheet of paper works wonders…

  23. Oh i love it!!! I totally need one of those! Living in Florida gets you up close and personal with lots of little creatures. As a kid i had no problem picking up bugs and spiders and worms but as i got older a little of my bug bravery disappeared lol if i can i trap it under a plastic container and then slid a sheet of paper under it and then put it outside but i like this waaay more!!

  24. I loved this witty, thoughtful post, Gena…timely reminders to extend humane treatment to all living creatures. And, Caroline’s comment re. the likely 72 hour lifespan of a fly will resonate with me for a long time – yoga teaches us to see things through ‘kind eyes’ for sure.

  25. very cool, what a great contraption.

    whenever I see a turtle in the road, I shop and get it to the side of the street 🙂 For buys and spiders, sometimes I use a cup and plate idea to get them out, haha

  26. That’s a great contraption. I’ve spent a lot of scooping up in paper towels — with some climbing on my hand and arm — as I rush to the door to let them out. This is a better way 😉

  27. PS. Last month my husband spotted a turtle crossing the road. So he stopped the car and tried to help it cross by picking it up. Long story short, turtles don’t like to be picked up, lol. He said it almost bit off his finger! I’m trying to get him to reconcile with turtles, this isn’t going to be easy! Hehe

  28. oh thanks for the annie hall clip! i need to see the whole thing now, again.

    i haven’t heard of that little thing for bugs but it sure would help. usually the cat gets to them and alerts us to any flying creature and sometimes even eats it. I am sure in my new venue I will need something more advanced. we don’t get many bugs in seattle. in fact, no screens on my windows upstairs! you might die.

  29. Wow. Gena, I’m absolutely astonished at the timing of this post. Last night, I found mouse poo all over my pantry and spent over an hour cleaning everything out. I started joking in my head about how I’ve been considering a further step into veganism but then, mouse poo… and then I kept thinking, about how the mice are just searching for food like all creatures do, and what “right” do I have to claim a space they can’t even consciously think about? My dad said he was going to give me some mousetraps, but I went hunting and bought a capturing-type one instead.

    And then I found this post, and I feel like my decision was the right one.

    (I still fricking hate mouse poo near my chocolate, though. Ugh.)

  30. wow, what a great post! I’ve always been one to get insects onto a paper towel and “escort” them outside, but I have to say, doing so does at times freak me out just a little. I’m definitely going to look into getting a Snapy of my own!

  31. Ah yes, the girly terror! Bug duty is what I consider a “blue” job (vs. a “pink” job). One phone call and the catch and release patrol comes over 🙂
    This is a great post because we are easily mindful and compassionate about animals that are cute and cuddly. In the same moment of preparing a vegan meal or shunning leather though, we might easily swat a mosquito. Without even meaning to, we often have an ingrained speciesism. Value and compassion to all creatures, great and small.

  32. Love this. I used to adore the children’s poen “the little land” when I was a child. It was my favorite bedtime read. I’d curl up and imagine all the little sweet bugs “little things with lovely eyes” – just like you Gena I didn’t realize why I connected so deeply to this poem – a celebration of life beneath the flowers, grass and leaves – among the dirt, puddles and streams. But as an animal-loving vegan (and after reading this post) it makes me recall that animal loving has always been a part of my soul. And veganism fits me well. (Actually, I like to think all animal lovers have veganism inside themselves – but those darn social norms are sometimes tough to break)

    Lovely post Gena! Xoxo

  33. A couple of weeks ago I was in yoga, and my instructor shared his thoughts about nonviolence vis-a-vis bugs: he reminded us that most flies live only 72 hours, so before you swat one, consider that it may be at hour 70 or 71 and enjoying the last minutes of its life in your house.

    Thanks for the post!

  34. interesting post! i, too, often catch insects in my house and take them outside —- usually just lightly wrapping them in toilet paper or catching them in a cup. i am trying to learn more about cruelty-free living. however, yesterday i witnessed a mosquito feeding on my arm and was torn on how to respond. it was latched on there real good and wouldn’t come off even when i moved my arm around. in moments like these i’m finding it hard to be cruelty-free. what should i do? today i am very itchy. would love some advice.

  35. Let’s also not forget that those wee insects are the reason we are able to eat all the veggies and fruit in the world. Without them to pollinate, there would be no veganism or vegetarianism or produce at all!

    It will come as no surprise to you that I lovingly share my house with insects. I mean, I don’t invite them in by any means, but if they are there, I don’t go out of my way to kill them or “escort” them outside either. I’ve spent a lot of time camping and hiking, so its just ingrained in me.

  36. Gena,

    As always, very thorough, witty, and charming. As a Catholic and believer, I often stumble a bit when fellow believers ask me how I can be both vegan and Catholic. It never occurred to me to mention St. Francis! While there is no crude evidence confirming his dietary habits, there is a sure testament to compassion, love, and understanding.

    xo,
    Heather

  37. Love this! It is so true. Just like the idea or Ahimsa in the 8 limbs of yoga. It is common to practice non-harming in the yogic way of life. All life is to be appreciated, even if WE don’t see the value in it, as can often times be the case with insects. Very nice.

  38. Gena, this is a really great, thought-provoking post. We have been socialized to regard insects and other little critters as a non-sentient nuisance. Your St. Francis of Assisi reference is very interesting — I’m not Catholic, but I learned a lot about him during an Italian Renaissance course I took this past semester. I agree that his way of life was endearing and very humbling. The Snapy seems like a great way to gently, kindly escort tiny creatures out of your place of dwelling 🙂

  39. Snapy sounds like a really great thing to have — simply for having a clean way to get the bugs AWAY. I am so freaked out by and scared of bugs. That mouse trap on the other hand…. I couldn’t handle it. Too bad we are not all like Cassie who would probably cuddle with the wasp and call it cute.

  40. I have never heard of the snappy! But when I was a little girl, long before I knew what veganism meant, or really vegetarianism (this was rural Minnesota in the 70s/80s) I used to ask my dad to escort spiders out on a piece of paper..let them crawl on the paper and then bring it outside.

    And actually, my aunt (my dad’s sister) is a Catholic nun and has been her whole adult life and all the Sisters in her Order escort bugs out this way…the St Francis story you told is right on!

    Have a great weekend, Gena 🙂

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