Make and use a minibeast tumble trap

A great way to find out which species of invertebrates are in your garden is to carry out a survey by using a tumble or “pitfall” trap. By setting one of these in your garden, you can start to get an idea of the diversity and abundance of invertebrate species – those that move along the ground at least!

This offers a fun way to explore invertebrates for younger children, and a chance to be a little more scientific for teens.


Hawthorn Shieldbug © Richard Burkmarr

What you will need:

  • A clean, old yoghurt pot, tub or jar
  • A piece of wood or old slate
  • Bait – such as cheese, bacon rind, bread or fruit
  • A trowel

How to make and use your tumble trap:

  1. Dig a small hole somewhere in your garden and place the tub in the hole so that the rim is level with the ground. Fill any gaps around the edge with soil.
  2. Place the bait in the tub, and prop up a piece of old wood or slate, using stones or twigs, so that it covers the tub. This will stop rain from getting in and harming anything that’s fallen into the trap.
  3. After a few hours, return to check the trap and see what you have found. (It’s important to check the trap every few hours, as the invertebrates won’t be able to escape otherwise)
  4. At this point, older children could make a note of what they have seen and repeat this process a number of times. They could then make tables, charts and graphs of their results.
  5. Once you’ve identified your catch, carefully release everything in the trap and either re-set the trap or pack it away.

Tell us what you saw using #DiscoverLearnPlay


Time to complete

2 - 6 hours

Suitable for age

Suitable location

Resource Level

Curriculum linked

Sciences (Biology, ecology, natural history).

Numeracy and Mathematics (Numbers; information handling – data and analysis).


Help protect Scotland’s wildlife

Our work to save Scotland’s wildlife is made possible thanks to the generosity of our members and supporters.

Join today from just £3 a month to help protect the species you love.

Join today

Stay up to date with the Scottish Wildlife Trust by subscribing to our mailing list Subscribe now

Back to top