What are good homemade insect traps?


I have used traps for insects for over 50 years.

  1. Simple bottle trap uses a straight side jar or one with a shoulder. Lightly vaseline the inside 1-2" using real Vaseline which is very slippery and wipe it off making the glass inside neck and lip un walkable by any insect. Put some food/banana or water source in the bottom. Many insects are seeking moisture. If you want burying beetles and flies put a dead mouse in the bottom. Bury it up to its neck in the ground and put some bark or a board over it to screen it from rain. Check it daily.
  2. Moth bait made from molasses/brown sugar/stale beer/ mashed ripe banana is mixed into a thick cocktail and paint it on some trees along a well known path before dusk. Use a lantern and bring a wide mouth jar with you and patrol the path and shine your light on the the painted spots on the trees. All sorts of moths, ants, beetles and wild cockroaches (usually the flying males) will be feeding on the bait. You will find wild cockroaches, which are very delicate and beautiful, all the way up into Canada. Enjoy the evening walk and collect them with the wide mouth jar placed over them for closer examination. You may collect some of the underwing Moths viewable in Legion of Night

You can extract arthropods from leaf litter by putting some on a mesh or wire frame and placing that midway down a collection container. Then shine a bright light from above to heat the top. The light can be strung through the top of the container (to keep it sealed), or the container can be transparent on the top. Or a funnel can be used to hold the leaf litter with the bottom hanging in a bottle. With no cap, more will escape than otherwise would, of course.

If you take too much litter you get a lot of bugs and it’s therefore not exactly harmless since you don’t know where they came from to put them back. But plenty of them seem to live, so it is not maximally destructive, either, and you can scale it down to as much litter as fits into a large funnel. You do need to get a good amount litter to have a chance of finding something inside it, since you get what migrates downwards from the light, so sample with that in mind and you’ll be good.

The setup is called properly a Tullgren funnel, so you can look it up. It grabs spiders, beetles, beetle larvae, springtails, millipedes, anything that lives in the soil and leaf frass.

If this fails, hit the bush with a sturdy, long-handled net. Then carefully inspect the net, not letting the fly out till you’ve seen them. This will harm a bush which is not sturdy itself: use judiciously.


Here’s a link to the Oregon North Coast Land Conservany blog:

I have since installed a more or less permanent “moth wall” made of plywood and painted flat white in place of the sheet with hooks to replace the lights.


Here’s one I made for attracting rare sand dune beetles. They don’t fly but are attracted to UV lights. The tripod is a basic one with a hook on the central post, the tube is a plastic core from a roll of plotter paper and the lights are white and UV led ribbons from Amazon. I think the lights, switches, and a 12V RV battery cost about $50. We set it up on a large white sheet and all kinds of insects come to it.

There’s a rope through the middle of the tube to hang it and separate switches for the white (yellow when turned off) and UV (silver when turned off) lights.

The bottom has a power plug. When it’s windy I put a rock on the cord to keep it from swinging.

It fits inside a poster tube for easy carrying and to protect it in the car.


https://bughunter.tamu.edu/collection/collectionequipment/trapping-insects/ has some general ideas. Adding a funnel shape to the top of your solo cup would greatly reduce the number of escapees. Capture shows a specialty trap that includes such a funnel in the lid. Also a section of pipe protruding into a larger capture area has a similar effect.


There already appear to be incredible explanations of different traps you can use on this thread. You may also enjoy looking through this web page here: https://mississippientomologicalmuseum.org.msstate.edu/collecting.preparation.methods/Collecting.methods.htm#.Ws0Uf2kpC7M

I mainly use a light trap. I put two chairs in my backyard next to each other, place a blanket over them, place a blacklight and a UV tube (former reptile light) under or clipped on the chairs, and turn them on at night.