A Guide to Trapping Compost Bugs

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					A Kid’s Guide to Trapping Compost Bugs
Have you ever wondered how many different types of bugs call
your compost pile home? Well…here is your answer. Below, we
show you two different ways to trap and examine the various
bugs in your compost pile. The first method is the most simple
and is called a pitfall trap. Sounds cool doesn’t it? The second
method uses a Burlese funnel. Sound intimidating? Don’t worry;
both traps are very easy to construct using common items you
can find around your house.

Pitfall Trap

A pitfall trap can be used to trap the larger bugs in your compost pile. For instance, beetles, spiders,
ants, millipedes, and sowbugs are your typical catch of the day with a well-designed pitfall trap.

What you need:

         A small, plastic container (e.g. large sour cream or cottage cheese container)
         Ethyl alcohol (used to preserve your bugs)
         Garden trowel


    1. Dig a hole in your compost pile that is large enough   Image courtesy of Illinois Natural History Survey

       to bury your container up to the rim. The rim should
       be level with the surface of your compost.
    2. Add approximately 1” of alcohol to the bottom of your container.
       The alcohol prevents the bugs from eating one another and also preserves them.
    3. Wait 5-7 days.
    4. When you return, you should find several bugs waiting for you.

    Optional step – You can also create a roof over your trap to prevent rain from entering.

Burlese Funnel

A Burlese funnel is useful for trapping compost bugs that
are small in size, as well as those bugs that tend to travel
underneath the surface of your compost pile. For instance,
you can usually capture mites in your Burlese funnel, but
not in a pitfall trap.

What you need:

           2L pop bottle (cut the bottom off)
           6” diameter circular piece of ¼” wire screen
           (rigid screen is best)
           Glass jar (2L works well)
           4-8 cups of compost
           Ethyl alcohol
           Magnifying glass
           Clean plate (preferably white)

Note – Setup will look slightly different than image on right.


     1. Add approximately 1” of alcohol to the glass jar.
     2. Turn the pop bottle upside down and insert it into
        the top of the jar.
     3. Place the wire screen inside the pop bottle.
     4. Add compost on top of screen.                         Image courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History
     5. Position lamp so it’s approximately 4” over                         Illinois Natural History Survey
        the top of the compost.
     6. Leave light on for 3 days in this position. Compost bugs do not like light and will move away
        from it; when they do, they’ll fall through the screen and into the preserving alcohol below. The
        light will also encourage your compost to dry out.
     7. After 3 days, disassemble the funnel and pour the alcohol onto the plate.
     8. Examine your catch with your magnifying glass.

 If you, or your children, enjoyed this guide please come out to our website and introduce yourself to our
                       Tribe of Compost Enthusiasts. We would love to hear from you.


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Description: A free guide to help teach children and adults about the creatures living in your compost pile. Get outdoors and explore!