Insect Hunts

The Pitfall Trap

Make a trap for bugs.
Make a trap for bugs.

Create a pitfall trap to catch creepy crawlers.

The Pitfall Trap

What You'll Need:


Glass jar


Plastic plate

4 stones

Imagine walking through a jungle and all of a sudden falling into a huge pit! You will make a similar pitfall trap for bugs.

Step 1: Dig a hole in the ground the same size as your jar.

Step 2: Put a pillow of grass in the bottom of the jar so the bugs that fall in will not get hurt. Don't add too much grass, or the bugs will use it to climb out of the jar.

Step 3: Bury the jar so its top edge is even with the ground.

Step 4: Mount a plate on 4 stones so it sits above the jar. Check each day to see what types of organisms are caught. Release the bugs after you study them for a day.

Step 5: Compare different areas to see which ones catch the most insects. For example, you might compare a natural forest area to a lawn.

Step 6: Now invent different types of pitfall traps.


Work with an adult and work carefully when burying and unburying the glass jar. Do not handle unknown insects.

What Happened?

While walking about, bugs fell into your jar. The slick glass prevented some bugs from being able to walk out. Some insects, such as roaches, can walk up glass walls; if they fell in, they escaped. If you put the pitfall trap in different areas, you can catch different bugs.

For example, a forest's bugs might be different than bugs on a lawn. (Although some of the bugs in a forest might be the same as the bugs on a lawn, the forest would have a greater variety.) The great amount of biodiversity in forests is why many people want to protect them.

On the next page, you'll learn how to find out what lives under rocks.

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