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Collect And Observe Bugs At Home

Woman holding beat sheet under a leafy bush

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Bugs are all around us, but can be hard to spot because of their small size and ability to blend in with their environment. Luckily, there are simple ways to collect and observe them, which you can do with materials you have at home!

Pitfall Trap

Many bugs live low to the ground, meandering through the grass, leaves, and soil as they go about their daily lives. Pitfall traps are a great way to collect these hard-to-find creatures.

Materials

  • Small container like a plastic drinking cup, coffee can, etc.
  • Shovel

Note: If you don’t have a yard, make a bait trap instead of a pitfall trap. Simply put a piece of ripe fruit or meat in a shallow container and see who comes to visit. Make sure to compost or throw the bait away when you’re done watching.

Trap materials - shovel and cup

Gather your materials.

Plastic cup placed within hole in the ground

Dig a hole in the ground the same depth as your container.

Place the container in the hole so that its opening is level with the ground.

Place the container in the hole so that its opening is level with the ground.

Hand holding cup used to trap insects, looking down into cup

Check the container every few hours to see what falls in, and don’t forget to release what you find.

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Gather your materials.

Dig a hole in the ground the same depth as your container.

Place the container in the hole so that its opening is level with the ground.

Check the container every few hours to see what falls in, and don’t forget to release what you find.

BEAT SHEET

Another method, called a "beat sheet," is used to discover bugs that live higher off the ground in bushes and trees. 

Materials

  • Light-colored piece of fabric like an old pillow case or thin towel 
  • Scissors
  • Two dowels or sticks
  •  Strong tape (duct tape or packing tape) 
Scissors, dowels, and tape on top of fabric

Gather your materials.

Sticks placed on top of fabric in an X shape

Place the sticks in an “X” and tape them together in the middle.

X centered within fabric

Place the “X” on the cloth so that the end of each stick lines up with a corner of the fabric, cutting your fabric so it’s just a little bigger than the “X.”

Corners are folded and taped to ends of sticks

Fold the corners and tape them to the sticks.

Woman holding beat sheet under a leafy bush

Place your beat sheet underneath a bush or a tree and give the plant a gentle shake. Did you catch any bugs?

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Gather your materials.

Place the sticks in an “X” and tape them together in the middle.

Place the “X” on the cloth so that the end of each stick lines up with a corner of the fabric, cutting your fabric so it’s just a little bigger than the “X.”

Fold the corners and tape them to the sticks.

Place your beat sheet underneath a bush or a tree and give the plant a gentle shake. Did you catch any bugs?