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How to make a light trap

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Grab a sheet, some rope, tent pegs, a flashlight, some string, and a jam jar. With these supplies, you can make a light trap. These two videos from London’s Natural History Museum, featuring NHM Principal Curator in Charge of Insects Dr. Gavin Broad, demonstrate how to make a light trap and why they’re a fun activity.

Light trapping is a great way to learn more about the wildlife living in your local area. It’s easily repeatable and harmless to the insects involved. By gently capturing them in a jar, the insects can be released back into their habitat once they’ve been recorded.

It is a simple but effective way of collecting a lot of data in a short amount of time – though this does depend on factors like location and weather conditions.

By sharing the data that you collect on an excursion (even if it’s just to the bottom of your garden) you can help increase our understanding of the geographic ranges of species and any changes in their distributions – you might even come across something rare or new to your area.

light trap - insects
And here’s the quick how-to:

Can’t figure out what bug you’re looking at? Post photos and descriptions in the Natural History Museum’s identification forums. They also have an advisory service.

Related watching: A simple way to tell insects apart: Look at their mouthparts and life in the soil revealed in claymation shorts by Maxwell Helmberger.

Bonus jam jar experiment: How to capture a scent.

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