Bug Hunting

Bug Hunting

What is a ‘bug’? The word doesn’t actually refer to any specific group of creatures - it actually combines lots of different ones together. The word ‘arthropod’ is used for a very large group of creatures that include insects, spiders and animals like crabs. Snails on the other hand aren’t insects or even arthropods, we call them Molluscs.

In science, the term ‘true bug’ is used for a special group of insects called Hemiptera (half-wing), like shield bugs. For the purposes of this activity, we’ll use the term bug to refer to any small creatures you might find!

Things you might need:

Soft ground
Lidded tin can or similar
Some small rocks
Board or slate

Activity details:

Age: 8+
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Running time: 1 hour

Learning points:

What species live outside your home
How to care for different species
How to keep good records

How to go on a bug hunt:

Start by looking around bushes, at the base of trees and among flowers and weeds. If you are in a woodland area, try turning over any small rocks or logs; you may be able to find some centipedes, spiders or woodlice.

Place a sheet or tray under a bush or tree and shake a branch - the bugs will fall from the branches and onto your sheet or tray.

Have a look at some flowers - can you see any bees, hoverflies or butterflies?

If you have time, you could set up some pitfall traps around your home.

If you’ve found a bug but need help identifying it, take a look at our page on Identifying Nature for some advice.

Take care!
Depending on where you live or where you hunt for bugs, there may be some creatures that do not want to be disturbed. Be careful and avoid any creatures that you don’t recognise.

How to take your investigation further...

Tally-up! Keeping good records of biodiversity* is vital for scientists to understand how species are coping with threats like climate change. Try to keep a log of what you find in the same location so you can see how populations change from one season to the next. You could also do a survey of different areas and think about why some places have more biodiversity than others.

Example of a tally and chart