10 Tools For Backyard Bug Detectives

All sorts of insects (and spiders and all the rest) share our outdoor spaces, and knowing what they are and if they're helping, harming, or just hanging out in our gardens is pretty important!

Doing some backyard detective work is the first step in earth friendly pest control, and in creating a more ecologically balanced garden!  But before you head outside, here are some tools I recommend that'll make the job easier and safer. 


  1. Hand lens/ magnifying glass: helps you get a closer look!

  2. Forceps or tweezers: for safe handling, especially if you’re dealing with an insect that stings or bites.
  3. Containers: to collect samples.  Use a container that works for you, anything from a sealable jar to a plastic ziploc bag can work.
  4. Notebook and pen or pencil: for recording your observations
  5. Camera: to take a picture that you can study later.
  6. Sturdy gardening gloves: to protect your hands from bites and scratches.
  7. Ariel net: otherwise known as a butterfly net.  It’ll help you catch flying insects.  Other variations include aquatic nets (for water dwellers), and sweep nets (for insects in meadows and fields)
  8. Light trap: great for catching moths and other insects attracted to light.
  9. Small spade or shovel: for checking for insects in the ground, like grubs.
  10. A light colored sheet: to collect insects that live in shrubs and branches.  Place the sheet under the plant, shake it a little, and see what falls out.

Remember, always use caution and use the proper protective gear when approaching or handling insects.  If you're not sure, don't!  And, if you're allergic to any sort of insect you might encounter, keep the necessary medicine on hand!

If you do any insect detective work, share what you find in the comments! Bonus points for pictures :)

Linda KelsoComment