Video Investigation: Pitfall Traps


Facebook & YouTube Video

Monday, June 1, Premier at 12:30pm

This video is part of the Insects Video Series.

Have you ever wondered what insects live under the leaves on the forest floor?  Join Science Educator, Michelle Amato to learn how to build your own pitfall trap and discover what lives in that secret world under cover!

Pitfall Trap Instructions:

Read Aloud: Under One Rock: Bugs, slugs and other ughs by Anthony D. Fredericks


  • Trowel or small shovel to dig soil
  • Yogurt container (or something similar)
  • Four small stones or pieces of sticks
  • Board or piece of bark / wood that is larger than the opening of the container
  • Spoon 
  • Science journal or blank paper
  • Pencil
  • Magnifying glass (optional)
  • Bug box (optional)
  • Colored pencils (optional)
  • Clipboard or something hard to write on outside (optional)
  • Internet or other field guides (optional)
  • An adult or someone in your family to help

What to do:

  • Head outside and find a place in the woods that is covered with leaves.
  • Dig a hole that is the same size as your container.
  • Place the container in the ground and place some leaf litter on the bottom for the insects to burrow into.
  • Place the four stones on the ground around your container and then place the board on top of the stones.  This board will help to keep rain out and other things out of the container that you don’t want to trap!
  • Let your pitfall trap sit overnight.
  • The next morning, check out what came crawling in through the night!  You can use a spoon to gently move around the leaves and scoop up for a closer look.  Place your finds in a bug box and take a closer look using a magnifying glass. 
  • Draw what you find in your Science Journal and use the internet or a field guide to see if you can identify them.
  • Post pictures of your Science Journal on Facebook and tag us @VINS.VT!

Resource for parents:

Smithsonian – information about beetles