Insects and their Allies  
Collecting Methods
Many groups of insects may require their own specialised collecting techniques, whereas some techniques can collect a range of insects from different groups. Outlined below are 2 simple collecting techniques. For more information on other techniques refer to the book by Upton (1991).

How to make a Pitfall trap

Material you will need are:

  • PVC pipe
  • plastic cup
  • metal fence
  • metal roof
  • shovel or auger
  • glycol or 70% alcohol


Dig a hole in the ground roughly the diameter and depth of the PVC pipe, an auger is better to use than a shovel for this as it will dig a neat hole and require less back fill. Once dug, place the pipe into the hole making sure the top is level with the ground and fill in any gaps around to create a tight fit. Place the plastic cup into the pipe and stand the metal fence lengthways across the top . The fence will help direct crawling and walking invertebrates along the fence and into the cup. Erect the roof over the top to keep out the rain and smooth the dirt down and away from the cup. Put some collecting fluid into the bottom of the cup to help preserve the trapped invertebrates, then sit back and wait to see what you collect.

How to make a Flight intercept/Malaise trap

Materials you will need:

  • plastic drink bottle
  • metal trough
  • fine netting or fly wire
  • large cone or funnel
  • 4 wooden posts or star pickets
  • shovel and hammer/mallet
  • glycol or 70% alcohol

Start by digging a trench in the ground to fit the metal trough. When the trench is just wide and deep enough to sink the trough to ground level put it in and back fill any gaps so that there are no other holes to trap invertebrates. Hammer in 2 of the posts at either end of the trough and stretch some netting or fly wire between the two making sure it is pulled tight. Insects that hit the netting while flying along will drop into the trough and this is where the name "flight intercept' comes from.

Next hammer in the remaining posts on the opposite sides of the trough to form the corners of a square with the other 2 posts. This forms a sturdy frame to support the top part of the trap known as the "malaise trap". A large netting cone is supported by the posts and a collecting bottle is placed at the top of the cone. Those insects that are intercepted by the flight intercept netting and don't fall into the trough below will usually climb upwards towards the light and become trapped in the bottle. Don't forget to put some collecting fluid in the bottle as well as the trough to preserve the invertebrates you collect.