52. Ephydridae – pooters

To my shame I find that I have very little to say about this tiny fly. It was part of the catch from a boggy area where there was little else to find. In fact that paucity is probably why I caught it – when you have gone to the trouble of swinging a net about and then sticking your head in to see what’s there, you want something for your efforts. So this ended up in my pooter because there was no competition from larger, more colourful and frankly, more interesting flies.

A pooter is, I have discovered, an essential piece of kit for a dipterist. It consists of a tube that you put in your mouth connected to a tube that you place near your target fly – in between the two tubes is a vial of some sort. When you take a sharp intake of breath the fly is sucked up into the vial and, an important detail, doesn’t end up in your mouth because there is mesh over the end of the tube that you suck. I put my first one together with some fish tank tubing, a plastic cake decorating tub and some electrician’s insulating tape, and was very proud of it. It’s somewhere in the undergrowth on a path down to the sea beside Tantallon Castle. Version two was made along the same lines, but with a smaller collecting vial, and met the same fate on the dipterists field meeting. My third version was therefore going to incorporate all the best ideas I could glean from other models.

I have gone for the “two tubes at one end” version so that the tube can be easily swapped for an empty one without having to pour out flies in the field, and I have used a glass (spice jar) container since plastic is softened and clouded by ethyl acetate (what most people use to kill their catch). I don’t have a one-way valve to stop escapees, preferring the low tech twist of grass or twig method of plugging the open end. The lid has a screw top lid so that it won’t pop off accidentally – there were horror stories of this happening, and of course it’s always the best flies that escape. Since I have now used up the last of the fish tank tubing, I can afford no further mishaps and so I have added a lanyard. Hopefully it will catch some interesting flies ….

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