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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.

Setting your trap

1. Find a space outdoors when you can dig near some good insect habitat.

2. Use a small shovel to dig a hole to fit your container.

3. Fill in the soil around the container and if there is leaf litter nearby place it around the edges of your trap to camouflage it.

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