Insectivorous Fan

by YoungBuck, published

Insectivorous Fan by YoungBuck Apr 5, 2013
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This is a fan I built to move the air around my potted plants, which have been supporting a burgeoning population of thrips, whiteflies, aphids, or some other tiny winged pests. Much like some of the larger non-chemical insect traps out there, this moves air through a mesh screen (from a 2.5" diameter mesh tea ball) that traps the insects in a breeze they can't fly free from. Then, if they stay there long enough, they die.
The bottom base pops off to allow you to empty the fan of their little carcasses. If you want to hasten them along, you can add water or some scented oil that they can drown in.
I ran the first version overnight and it trapped about fifty of the little suckers.

It also makes a nice desk fan; the exit spout is orientable, so you can direct the breeze away from the intake, and it has a fun form that looks nice on a desk. I printed this one in red but I plan to make the ones for my windowsills in green so it blends into the foliage better.

Alternatively, if you're not trying to kill bugs, you can fill the tea ball half-full with potpourri to scent the air, or add liquid potpourri to the base. If you use any of that serious air freshener juice, put it in a small tin inside the base because that stuff melts plastic. Please don't ask me how I know this.


Order a USB ventilation fan and tea ball:

Print and deraft the three parts. Tap the three holes in the exit spout to 4-40, and thread in three 4-40 screws. Drop the tea ball into the socket in the intake, and assemble the spout to the intake to sandwich the flange of the tea ball (if you make multiples, you might be able to use just half of the tea ball, allowing you to buy half as many tea balls). Tighten down the three screws until they drop into the spin groove and the spout spins with some resistance but won't come off.
Disassemble the fan,by un-nutting the four perimeter screws. Take a grille, the fan, and the speed control subassembly, and fit them into the square socket in the intake, with the spider in the fan facing in. Drop the four screws through the stack, and insert the nuts into the hexagonal sockets in the back. Tighten.
Pop the base cap on, and set the fan down on it. Plug it in to your nearest USB socket, and fire it up. Adjust the flow direction to your liking by rotating the exit spout.

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Insectivorous Fan by YoungBuck is licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution license.

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Haha, I can confirm how effective this kind of arrangement is. I had a square fan sitting by my window, by itself, to try and drive a little airflow this summer. It turned out to be the bug-equivalent of a wind-farm hazard.

Can we get a photo of the trap in action? :)

'In action'? You mean plugged in next to a plant? Or opened up, looking at the bug carcasses in the base?

Second option please, including the victims. Just curious how effective it is.

Sorry for the year-plus delay. I brought in some pepper plants this fall to overwinter them, so I set up a few of these to keep air moving over the leaves. I posted the requested picture of a few week's worth of carnage. I believe the effectiveness is highly dependent on how aggressive an infestation you have. In this case, it seems to be fairly effective at keeping the insect population down... although it's a complex function indoors since the little bastards are no doubt breeding in my compost pail by the sink...

Not bad :)
Don't they clog the fan?

No... if it were amazingly more effective (or there were many many more bugs) it might have a chance of blocking the screen, but as it is, they just get pushed against the screen until they fall down to the bottom. They pass right through the fan.

It's designed to blow the critters into the screen, where they die a horrible death and then their carcasses tumble into the detachable cup below. So... airflow is everything. Fan blows in, air comes out the spout.
I did run one in green after this, but that was just so it would blend into the foliage better.

good idea, do you find that air flow direction makes much of a difference.?

i also wonder if you made the inlet side yellow/greenish might attract more. coming from a old yellow paper and Vaseline trick i know

slick idea man! ;^) like a mini mosquitoe magnet

Thank s,
direct In my box!