Bug-a-salt: Gadget gun takes aim at flies, with a pinch of salt

I first met Lorenzo Maggiore a couple years ago in yoga class, and run into him at the beach from time to time—he's an accomplished surfer, and pops a mean Adho Mukha Vrksasana. But until recently, I had no idea he was also the inventor of Bug-a-salt (Twitter), a novelty gadget that allows you to shoot houseflies dead (yet delightfully intact!) with a pinch of salt.

Our yoga teacher just told me today that Bug-a-salt has gone crazy viral, and he isn't kidding. Nearly a million YouTube views on the "how it works" video; news reports all over the place, and he's reached 10 times the original fundraising goal on indiegogo.

You can pre-order one of the guns here. The videos are weird but excellent. YouTube channel here. I find this one to be particularly satisfying.

Go, Lorenzo! I think you are about to become very rich.



  1. I’ll be honest: When I first heard about this I thought it was stupid. I watched the video to assure myself of my superiority…and found myself really, really wanting one.

  2. Non-toxic and chemical free? Huh? Sodium Chloride isn’t a chemical now? I like the idea, though I think I’d prefer a smaller pistol-sized version.

    1. I keep hearing about this dangerous chemical solvent called Dihydrogen Monoxide…..

  3. Chemical free my ass!

    This gun uses Sodium Chloride as its projectile, a well known CHEMICAL. 

  4. I would have a ball using one but…. I can’t help but feel it would be clutter 99.99% of the time, and eventually more plastic landfill

    1. I doubt if pepper would work: too flakey and not dense enough. Sand might work, but might be too abrasive for the internal mechanism.

  5. Wow, this guy really has invested in this idea.  Wonder how he felt able to talk mechanics with Chinese engineers, put his life’s savings on the line, etc.

  6. I watched the video and I still don’t get how it works. Is salt somehow poisonous to flies, or does it propel a tiny pinch of salt with such force that it can penetrate the fly’s body, and salt just happens to be the cheapest and easiest ammunition?

    1.  I’m assuming that it is indeed the latter. Think a miniature sandblaster used as a shotgun.

    2.  I’m guessing it doesn’t penetrate the fly’s body but the physical shock is enough to kill the fly.

      1. Okay, so who here has ever contracted a disease from a housefly?

        Seriously, this is a non-problem in first-world countries.

        1. really? I live in the first world and get house-fly borne disease every year in the form of pinworms. my neighbour is a cattle farmer, my other neighbour keeps goats and horses. the flies that walk on the manure at my neighbours’ houses can easily come into our kitchen and walk across the counter-tops, depositing eggs (and other pathogens) as they go. you have obviously never lived in the country. 
          we have horse-flies, deer-flies and several other biting flies where we live. I also lost a house cat to “fly-strike”, which is the polite term for what happens when flies lay eggs on an animal (most often sheep) and then the larvae hatch and eat the animal alive. 

          I’d be happy to have one of these. 

          1. That would be the most inefficient way ever to kill a fraction of one percent of the flies around you though.

            Better invest in window screens.

            (And yes, I’ve had nasty encounters with horse-flies. I was talking about houseflies specifically since that is what this BB post is about.)

            I guess what I’m saying is: your cat is one hell of a walking pathogen delivery vehicle that you’re in very close contact with. Your cat doesn’t wash its feet either after having a stroll on your neighbor’s meadow.

          2.  re: “and then the larvae hatch and eat the animal alive. ”

            I thought maggots only ate rotting meat – which is why they are sometimes used to clean infected wounds. I guess I learned something new today.

          3. @Mister44:disqus ,  Screw Flies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochliomyia_hominivorax

    1. I envy you. 
      Unless it means you have never left your air conditioned underground bunker. 

      Almost every place I have been has a season with biting flies.  
      Or worse. 
      My dog hatched a botfly in South Carolina. 
      It left a hole the size of my index fingers first phalange, which then healed quickly.   

      Oh, and I’m ticklish.


    – Easier to aim
    – Leaves no trace of crystals or small corpses
    – Useful for things other than snuffing charismatic microfauna

    – Effective only at close range
    – Requires batteries (though rechargeable)
    – Lacks assault esthetic (may be a “pro” for some)

  8. The only flies I get here are fruit flies when I leave the nectarines out too long.  But those are slow enough that you can get your Kwai Chang Caine on and catch them by hand.

    1. It wouldn’t kill her, and it probably wouldn’t sting her either. However, it would likely piss her off if she doesn’t know you well and/or if she perceives you to be in a lower stratum. 

      In which case, if she is bigger than you, she might kick your arse, if she is armed, she might shoot you. If she is neither bigger than you nor armed, she might call a male wasp with whom she is ‘friendly’ or related to do it for her.  Of course depending on the region, ‘friendly’ & related may not be mutually exclusive.

      1. If she is neither bigger than you nor armed, she might call a male wasp with whom she is ‘friendly’ or related to do it for her.

        And then they’d have martinis and refuse to let you join their country club?

    2. If you need a safe, effective anti-wasp tool, agitate against the current crop of “voter verification” laws being promoted by the red-state types…

      But really — if you need to attack wasps without poison, get yourself a good spray bottle and load it with 30% dish soap and 70% cool water. Put one or two squirts on a wasp, and it’ll be knocked down within two seconds; dead after 20 seconds or so. (Don’t use hot water; it energizes them enough to use their last coupla seconds of controlled flight for a revenge sortie ;-)

      I’m deathly allergic to bee stings, but surrounded by small mammals that don’t like poison and objects that don’t do well with the oily vehicle in canned sprays. My 1-quart garden sprayer shoots a stream of dilute Palmolive about 10 feet; I can easily take ’em out on-the-fly with no concerns. Also works great on hornet nests (apply at dusk or later), tent bugs, spider infestations, ants, etc.

  9. For fun flyicide I use an electronic bug zapper (you know, the ones that look like a tennis racquet). I replaced the high-voltage capacitor with a much larger one – the resulting crack can sometimes be loud enough to make your ears ring. 

  10. This thing screams for a laser-sight!

    Also, to get rid of fruit flies: Just leave out a glass of (dilute) vinegar that has a drop of dishwashing liquid in it.

  11. It would solve that conundrum:   Once in awhile I’m in a fairly nice restaurant, and there’s 1 fly buzzing around the table.    It’s probably not a fly-infested restaurant; somebody just let it in when they opened the door.   It’s one of those annoying flies that leaves your food when you swat at it, and then, comes back and lands exactly where it was before.   It hasn’t been trapped indoors long enough to get lazy, it’s still quick.   Sure, you can complain to the waiter about it, but they won’t be able to get it either, and it’s kind of undignified to have your waiter flailing about at a fly.   Hold on, I’m going to get something from the trunk of my car. [Arnold voice:] I’ll be back.  [Returns with salt-shotgun]

    1. I was wondering how it was even remotely possible that Xeni and all of the commenters failed to make an obvious Breaking Bad reference!

  12. So, is the name of this thing a-salt rifle? I thought they were trying to ban those after the movie theater shootings.

    1. Actually, Granny Clampett used to load her shotgun with rock salt and bacon rind to chase off varmints.

  13. With an ideal shooting distance of 24″ it isn’t any practical improvement over a flyswatter although more amusing.

  14. I applaud ingenuity but as someone who’s studied yoga for a while and who knows many surfers who respect nature this invention is shocking to me. I find it hard to believe that someone who practices yoga that teaches that all living things are interconnected would want to create something that kills. Why? What’s the purpose? A fly has a very very short life span why put your time and mental energy (and money) into making sure something like that dies?

    This actually makes me quite sad.

    1. dont you know, a man swatting at a fly can cause the world immeasurable harm, like imagine a man swatting at a fly inside mission control at the pentagon, next to a row of launch buttons, or a woman inside a nuclear reactor control station swatting at flies, and not remembering the position of the little red switches? 

      flies are the devil!

      no need to swat when you can shoot salt like a pro

  15. Wonderful solution. 21st century fly swatter, of sorts.

    Other than the water-filled Ziploc bag hanging over the back door (which seems to confuse flies), a spray bottle filled with water and a small amount of dish soap works wonderfully on flies, especially if you can trap them between windows and blinds.

    But this… I want the next gen model with digital scope.

  16. OKAY yaALL!!!
    ok so I didn’t actually get one of these but I kinda made my own…
    I took my old dasey BB gun from when I was a kid, and simply put a pinch of salt into the bb loader, gave it a pump of air.  
    BAM, dead!
    I live next to horses, and yes I have perfect screens, but still about 3 to 4 flies still get into the house every day.  These are the fastest flies that outrun my electric fly swatter zapper, and even outrun the rubber swatter. 

    These hyper reactive flies are the worst, they keep me up at night,  distract me from porns and blogs, and give me overall ADD.  

    So I have been taking the bb gun with salt loaded, and aiming it (within 3′) from the fly, and spraying them. Of course the salt comes at them way too fast for them to react.  Sometimes It doesnt kill them, but it takes a wing off leaving them with no choice but to spin around the table top like a mini roomba. O MUCH FUN aiming a huge gun quietly and slowly at a fly, for whom I have so much contempt. good stuff!  I will keep using my bb gun until this device is available in my local ace hardware.  YES!!!

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