Top tips for a brilliant bug hunt

7 spot ladybird

Now the weather’s getting warmer, more minibeasts are out and about. So it’s a great time to go on a bug hunt! We’ve put together some advice on how to go about it, and a list of creepy crawlies you might discover.

How to look for minibeasts

Many minibeasts like to live in dark, damp places, so this is a good place to start. Peek under large stones and logs to see who’s hiding there. Peer into the cracks in tree bark, deadwood, and walls. Poke your nose into the long grass to see who’s crawling among the blades.

Lots of creepy crawlies live in trees too. Lay a piece of white cloth, such as an old sheet or pillow case, under a tree or bush and shake the branches. You’ll be surprised how many tiny creatures fall out!

Remember – bugs are very tiny and are probably scared of you. Be really careful if you pick them up and make sure you put them back where you found them.

Bug hunting kit

You don’t really need anything, apart from sharp eyes. But these things might come in useful too.

  • Some clear containers to trap bugs so you can get a closer look. You can buy special bug-hunting pots with magnifying lids from our online shop.
  • A spoon to gently scoop them up
  • A magnifying glass to examine really tiny details
  • Bug ID sheets – our minibeast hunt sheet is a good one to start with.

Here are some common types of minibeast to look out for:

Spider

Garden spider
Look for spiders weaving webs (Photo: North East Wildlife).

There are more than 650 sorts of spider in the UK, from the tiny money spider to the green-fanged tube web spider – that one can be over two centimetres long! One thing you can be sure of is that they all have eight legs, and two main body parts. That’s why they’re classed as arachnids, not insects, as insects only have six legs.

Ant

Black ant
Can you spot ants crawling across the forest floor? (Photo: North East Wildlife)

Ants are usually either black or red, although some are yellow. They live in large colonies so if you see one ant there are probably loads of others not too far away.

Beetle

Rhinoceros beetle
The male rhinoceros beetle has a tiny horn on its head, which makes it look like a mini rhino! (Photo: Sandy Rae/WikimediaCommons)

Around 40% of all insects are types of beetle and they come in a wide variety of colours and sizes. Did you know the ladybird is actually a beetle? Check out our beetle ID sheet for some pictures of other common ones.

Ladybird

22 spot ladybird
Not all ladybirds are red. Can you find a yellow 22-spot? (Photo: North East Wildlife)

You might think you know how to spot a ladybird – it’s red with black spots, right? But did you know that the UK has 46 types of ladybird and they’re not all red? They can be orange, yellow or brown too, and some are even stripy! Use our ladybird ID guide to help you work out what you’ve found.

Caterpillar

Cinnabar caterpillar
Keep your eyes peeled for stripy cinnabar caterpillars (Photo: North East Wildlife)

A caterpillar is the larva stage of butterfly or moth so there are lots of different types – green, brown, striped, hairy... and very hungry! Our butterfly caterpillar ID and moth caterpillar ID sheets will help you identify them.

Snail

Garden snail
Can you spy a snail slowly gliding along? (Photo: North East Wildlife)

A snail is a type of mollusc, a creature with a soft body and hard shell. We have around 120 types of snail and some have beautiful, spiral patterns on their shells. It’s easy to admire them up close as they won’t be making a quick getaway!

Shield bug

Hawthorn shield bug
Shield bugs are also known as stink bugs because they release a smelly liquid when they feel threatened! (Photo: North East Wildlife)

We often use the word ‘bug’ for all types of minibeast, but shield bugs are true bugs! They have special mouthparts which they use to pierce plants and suck the sap out of them. Aphids and froghoppers are also true bugs.

Earwig

Earwig
If you find an earwig take a good look at its pincers (Photo: North East Wildlife).

Earwigs have long, reddish-brown bodies with a pair of pincers at the end. They like to hide in dark places and can sometimes give you a tiny nip if you disturb them. Despite their name, they won’t crawl into your ear though!

Woodlouse

Woodlouse
Woodlice like to hide under stones and logs (Photo: North East Wildlife)

A woodlouse is a crustacean, not an insect, so it’s related to the crab – look carefully and you’ll see it has sections of shell across its back. It looks like it’s wearing armour plates! The common woodlouse is grey, but some can be brown or even pinkish.

Get a minibeast ID book

If your family is mad about bugs, you’ll love our pocket-sized minibeast ID book. It features 28 creepy crawlies and flying insects, so it’s great for taking on woodland walks. It’s packed with colour photos to help with identification, and has fascinating facts that children will love! Buy the minibeast ID book in the Woodland Trust online shop.

Don’t forget to tell us what you found on your minibeast hunt using #NatureDetectives.

Have you been on a bug hunt?

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