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Pitfall Traps

What animals will you find?

Getting started

  • A round container, cup, jar, or plastic bottle cut in half
  • Shovel
  • Magnifying glass
  • Larger container for transferring trapped animals to safely observe them
  • Identification books/charts


  • Check trap early in the morning, to avoid stressing the creatures captured being held too long or by hot weather.
  • If you are no longer using the pitfall trap remove it.
  • Check the weather forecast before starting this activity as rain can drown the insects.
  • Call WIRES or a snake catching professional if a snake is caught.  
  • Check your pitfall trap every few hours.

Check your trap

  • After several hours or the following morning, use a stick to clear the leaf litter from around the trap. 
  • Check the trap at a distance, looking for any biting or stinging animals.
  • Once safe remove the trap and transfer your catch into a larger container. 
  • Use field guides, apps, or website resources to identify the animals you have captured.
Magnifying glass with bugs around it and text: what creatures did you find?


  • Release all of the animals into the same place when you are finished examining them. 
  • Be aware of the appearance of any biting, stinging or poisonous creatures which might fall into your trap