Build a Butterfly Trap & Insect Trap
Whether you are an amateur entomologist or an aspiring scientist here are two projects that will let you explore the insect jungle that is in your backyard. Best of all is that everything you need you probably already have. If you not, then a quick trip to the 'Everything less than a Dollar Store" should solve your problem.
The first project is a spinoff of a traditional butterfly trap. For this you will need a 'dollar store' laundry hamper, a Frisbee, 6 binder clips, and about 3 feet of twine (figure 1).
The 1st step is to make two sets of connected binder clips by attaching them with a length of twine that will leave a span about 6 inches in between them (figure 2). After you have the two sets of clips connected together place one of the clips onto the edge, or rim of the Frisbee and the other free clip onto the opposite rim/edge. So now you should have two clips attached to the Frisbee at opposite sides.
Next pop the laundry hamper open and place it upside down so that the opening is facing upwards. While holding the Frisbee above the opening of the upside down hamper fasten the dangling binder clips onto the top edge that makes up the opening the hamper but not the sides with handles. So now your Frisbee will be attached to the upper edge of the hamper by the two clips that were just hanging loose. Take the two free binder clips (the one not fastened to any twine) and place them on to the actual handles of the hamper and let them dangle for now. Take one of the clips that you had placed on the hamper's handle and bring and attach it to one of the open areas of the Frisbee. Repeat the procedure with the other clip on the opposite side. Now your Frisbee will be connected to your laundry hamper at four points that should be equally spaced apart (figure 3). You'll know if you did it right if when you turn your contraption upside down it should look like figure 4.
The concept is that butterflies will smell the bait and land on it to drink. Then when you approach the trap the startled butterflies will fly up into the inside top of the trap and become confused allowing you an opportunity to reach inside grab them with your fingers. Have some fun and experiment with various baits. Does it work? That all depends on where and when you use it. Will it keep your kids busy and outside getting some exercise? You bet!
The next activity is an Insect trap that involves an empty two litter bottle and a piece of moldy cheese. First take an empty 2-liter bottle and remove the top by cutting as shown in the figure.
Next have your kids choose what type of bait to use. It's best to make a few traps and use different baits for varied results. This is where the kids become 'Bug Scientist' for a day. After choosing a bait and placing it into the bottom of the bottle, invert the removed top and place it inside the now opened bottom section of the bottle.
Tap it lightly with the palm of your hand so as to create a snug fit as shown.
Here is where the exercise comes in. The kids now have to dig a hole in the shape of their insect trap. It needs to fit snuggly around the side and deep enough so the open top of the trap is even with the surface of the ground. This will allow insect to approach and step over the edge in pursuit of the bait. Once their legs hit the slippery sides of the trap they will slide down and through the now inverted top of the bottle and become trapped inside. After a period of time remove the trap from the ground to see what you caught. Then have the children mark down which baits produce the most insects and identify as many as possible.
Without even realizing it they have become scientists. They thought of an experiment, they executed it, they kept data, and that resulted in a conclusion! Now they know what bugs are attracted to what baits. And you thought they were just playing like kids should be doing in the summer.
Thanks to Rick Mikula, The Butterfly Guy, for this great information!