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Terminate Flies with the Bug-a-Salt

Updated: Feb 27, 2019 13:48
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I was in Alabama hanging out with some locals, where else but on a porch. The breeze stopped blowing and a cloud of flies descended on us.

Wayne, the old man whose porch we were sitting on turned to his friend:

‘Get the gun,’ he said, with a dribble of dip-spit into a Styrofoam cup for emphasis.

This being Alabama I assumed we were talking about an actual gun. I braced myself.

He came back from the truck with a bright yellow super-soaker looking thing, cocked it like a pump-action shotgun, and handed it to Wayne. The old man took aim at a big one on the windowsill, rubbing a hairy front leg on its eyeball. He switched the safety off and dispatched the fly to its maker in a burst of salt. He shot another one off the arm of his chair then returned to his spitting cup.

‘I play with this thing all the time,’ he said, ‘Why don’t you try.’ Wayne handed me the weapon. ‘Be sure to switch the safety off, that’s the only drawback, the safety.’

I gave it a pump and the massacre began.


The Bug-a-Salt pest control gun is the product of Lorenzo Maggiore’s lifelong vendetta with the musca domesitca, better known as the housefly. ‘I just hate flies,’ he told me when I asked him where he got the idea.

As a kid, Lorenzo used BB guns loaded with sand to take out flies around the house. He kept playing with the idea over the years, constantly improving his designs. He switched from sand to salt which eliminated the mess factor and made the gun safe to use around food.

Finally, he developed and crowdfunded the Bug-a-Salt 2.0. Enough people liked the idea of sniping houseflies with table salt that Lorenzo was able to quit his day job and become a full-time arms dealer.


The Bug-a-Salt fires ordinary table salt–about a pinch at a time–like a shotgun. It’s more hygienic than a fly swatter, and way more fun. Once the salt grains leave the barrel they spread out in a circle, so it’s very easy to hit your target even if if flies away. The gun is lethal (to bugs) around two to three feet. It can waste anything that crawls, including cockroaches. A skilled shooter can hit a fly in mid-air.

I had to have one of my own. So I had a Bug-a-Salt delivered to the next destination on my southern road trip.

There are a lot of bugs to shoot in Florida. I spent way longer than I’m proud to admit stocking the area around a dumpster for creepy-crawlies. I started talking all quiet like those guys on hunting shows. The gun is so powerful you don’t have to be a good shot, it smokes anything you point it at. It’s borderline unfair against ants.


It’s inevitable that you’ll shoot your roommate with it for a laugh, just don’t aim for the face. Seriously. Remember the kid in A Christmas Story.

The disclaimers on the box sounded like a challenge to me. I had to know what it feels like to get shot. I took one round in the back with at close range with no shirt on. It didn’t break the skin, but it stung like you wouldn’t believe.

The Bug-a-Salt is not a toy, but for safety reasons, Lorenzo made sure it looks like one. He didn’t want it to be mistaken for a real gun. I got some strange looks and some laughs while I was ‘hunting’ out in public, but I don’t think I scared anybody.


Those little hairs on a fly’s legs trap microscopic chunks of whatever they land in–feces, roadkill, corpses, cowpies in the great state of Alabama. As if that’s not gross enough, they vomit up digestive juices onto your food before they take a bite.

Flies are what the World Health Organization calls a vector for all sorts of diseases. You probably aren’t reading this article if you live somewhere cholera or typhoid is a problem, but the flies in your kitchen are far from clean and they could still give you food poisoning.

So fight back. Stand your ground against fly-born illness and roadkill germs. A-salt those flying typhoid vectors. Do like Wayne in Alabama: get the gun.

Images: courtesy of Bug-a-Salt.

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