Make a Beating Tray

Check out our step-by-step guide or watch the short video below as nature enthusiast and Operation WildNation ambassador Sarah Sarsfield shows you how to conduct a survey of the trees and shrubs in your garden using a Beating Tray!

Here you might expect to find spiders, beetles, aphids or other flies, caterpillars and more!

What You’ll Need:

Long stick and basin

Alternatively, a long stick, two medium sticks and pillow case (preferably in a light colour)

Tip: Bamboo is ideal, but you can use a sweeping brush handle if you can’t find a long stick

Step 1

Select a tree or shrub in your garden to survey (ivy growing on a wall works equally well).

Step 2

Hold the basin/pillow case under the branches (make sure you have a helper!).

Step 3

Take your long stick and start to tap/shake the branches. Move it up and down along the leaves so that you knock out anything that might be living there into you basin. (Remember you don’t want to damage the tree, so don’t hit it too hard!).

Step 4

Do this for about 30 seconds or so. When you are done take a look in your basin, what can you see?

Step 5

Think about the insects you found, why were they in the tree? Were they looking for food or shelter? What do they eat? Who might eat them?

Step 6

If you can, move on to a different area of your garden and repeat this method. Compare your results, do you have different insects in different parts of your garden? Are the insects living in trees different from the ones in the shrubs?

Top Tip

If you find something you don’t recognise try sketching it or taking a photograph so that you can look it up later. Scientists use a type of guide called an ‘identification key’ to identify species they don’t know.