Finding and Identifying Insects

Which insects can you find in your garden or your local outdoor spaces? You might be lucky enough to find some interesting insects just by looking in the right places. Under stones, logs, leaves, in amongst long grass or on flowers are all excellent places to start. Insects, however, are very good at hiding! Here are two techniques to help you find a variety of insects. Your challenge is to try them out and share your best insect finds, either on video or as photographs using @morethanadodo

Full instructions can be found below or watch our video:



Method 1: Make a pitfall trap!

You will need: 

  • A small pot such as a clean yoghurt pot
  • A trowel for digging
  • A few stones
  • A small piece of wood or a flat stone to act as a rain cover

What to do:

  1. Find a good spot for your trap on level ground, amongst vegetation.
  2. Dig a hole big enough to sink your pot so that it is completely level with the ground.
  3. Place the pot into the hole. You can put a few leaves, small stones and twigs in the pot to make any insects you catch feel at home.
  4. Build a cover over the trap by placing stones around the pot and resting a flat stone or piece of wood on top.  Make sure there is enough space for insects to crawl under.  This will stop the pot filling with water if it rains.
  5. Wait for a few hours or, better still, overnight.
  6. When you are ready, empty your pot carefully into a tray so that you can see what has fallen in.  Take photos so that you can have a go at identifying what you have caught.
  7. Return the creatures carefully to a sheltered spot in vegetation and fill in the trap hole.


Method 2: Shake a Tree!

This is a great way to find some insects that like to hide out of reach. 

You will need:

  • A small tree or bush
  • A long stick
  • A white sheet or a large white piece of paper

What to do:

  1. Find a suitable tree or bush.  You need one whose branches you can either shake yourself or you can gently shake using a long stick.
  2. Place a white sheet underneath the tree and shake or bash the tree gently. Any insects which are not hanging on tight will fall off onto your sheet. Don’t bash the vegetation too hard as you may damage the plant – you want insects in your sheet, not leaves and twigs.
  3. Have a look at what you have and photograph them before they run away!  You may like to have a small pot handy to gently collect the insects so that you can take a closer look.

What have you found?

Have a go at identifying what you have found. There are lots of fantastic resources online to help. You can either take photographs of the insects you want to ID or collect them in small pots.Remember to return them to where you found them. Here is a list of some of our favourite insect identification resources. 

You may also like to have a look at our Insect ID resources which gives you information about how to identify insects according to the Big 5 Orders of insects.   

Share your finds!   

Don’t forget to share what you have found by sending your videos and photos to @morethanadodo.

Good Luck!            


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