I live in the suburbs. Our neighborhood is “thickly settled” and we don’t have acres of land or nearby forests. Wildlife exists, but it mainly consists of the mundane variety of squirrels, skunks, chipmunks and some raccoons. Our insects are generally things like wasps, ants, butterflies and the like. We are not known for a large cricket population.
Given that, I’m not entirely sure how one unlucky cricket managed to find its way into our house one night as I was watching TV. All I know is that crickets are loud. Loud enough to drown out American Idol. My husband came in and started to laugh because, of course, he watches his favorite shows in another room. One that was blissfully cricket-free. Still, he knows I’m not a huge bug fan, so he tried to sneak around the room in search of the cricket. Every time he took a step, the cricket stopped chirping. Finally he gave up and left me to occasionally stomp my feet on the floor to convince the cricket to settle down.
This went on for several nights. And then, one day, as I was navigating an obstacle course of toys, I saw it! For some reason I had envisioned a cute little green cricket, not much larger than a small grasshopper. Uh-uh. This guy was a large black bettle-y looking cricket. Yuck. I ran to get a vacuum, but when I returned he had gone missing again. Sigh.
As all of this was going on, the lovely Team Mom gals at Child’s Play PR were sending out notices about a collection of items from Backyard Safari Outfitters (by Summit Toys. We received a vest, periscope and bug vacuum in a large box, which I quickly hid from my kids. And honestly, I wondered why in the world anyone would want a bug vacuum.
You’ve probably put two and two together by this point, but as the kids were playing the next day they discovered the cricket. At once curious and horrified, they followed it around the room. And I had a moment of inspiration! I ran to the box, pulled out the bug vacuum and handed it to my son. He tried unsuccessfully to vacuum up the cricket, so I had to get involved. Apparently, the bug vacuum is not really intended for bugs of that size and strength. I suspect it would work better on ants, caterpillars, pill bugs, and other pint-sized bugs. Still, I got it to work and captured the cricket inside the container. I then closed the magnifying glass/cover and allowed the kids to take a closer look. For the record, big, black crickets are really pretty gross!
It was easy to pull the bug case off the vacuum, take it outside and set the cricket free. The Backyard Safari Outfitters Bug Vacuum comes with two nozzles, one for smaller insects and one for the slightly larger variety. It also has two “capture cores” which serve as a bug storage case that you can use for observation, and are topped off with a magnifying glass for those brave enough for a closer look. You can purchase a Bug Habitat separately for longer observation.
We also received the Backyard Safari Cargo Vest, which is pretty nifty for kids who like to explore. It has a bunch of pockets for collecting cool items and 6 D-rings for attaching gadgets, keys, a water bottle, compass, etc. The cargo vest zips up and is one-size-fits-all. It is listed for 5-years and up and comfortably fits my 4-year old (who is a bit large for his age and wears 5-6). Definitely take that into account when deciding on that purchase. Bug loved exploring all of the pockets and tucking things inside. My kids aren’t all that adventurous, so the vest has taken up residence in our dress up bin.
And, lastly, we received the Mega View Periscope. The periscope is neat… it expands to up to 4 feet in length and can be used to look over all items or to look underwater. Unfortunately, it’s pretty big and heavy and my kids both found it tedious to carry around. I suspect they’ll both like it more when they’re older and it isn’t taller than they are. It might also be fun attached to playground equipment or a deck for more stable covert viewing.
Overall the quality of the Backyard Safari Outfitters gear is quite good. All of the items feel solid and are designed for kids, but with some serious play in mind. These are toys that are meant to be trekked through the woods or nearby fields. Each of them comes with the “Essential Field Guide: Pop-Up Field Guide.” That was the one area I found disappointing. The Guides are basically a catalog of their products with a few tips on exploring outside. The Guides appear to be the same regardless of the product purchased. I would have loved to see specific tips related to the product, especially the bug vacuum. A brief bug identification guide would have a been a wonderful addition to that product.
So, if you have a cricket problem, you can don your cargo vest, set out with your periscope and scoop those bugs up with your bug vacuum. That is really as adventurous as we get in our house!
Disclosure: The Cargo Vest, Mega View Periscop and Bug Vacuum from Backyard Safari Outfitters were supplied for review purposes by Team Mom at Child’s Play PR. There was no promise of a positive review and all opinions in this post are my own.