The Grapefruit Trap – Winter

Grapefruit trap halvesWhat is it that fascinates kids about bugs? We’ve decided to do the Grapefruit Trap experiment every season so my kids can see which creepy critters lurk in the garden over the year. A grapefruit will be the lure to bring the bugs to us – insects, spiders, centipedes, worms, slugs and all.

Grapefruit trap winter season

winter grapefruit trapWe did our first grapefruit trap on a cold winter day. There was frost on the ground in the morning but no snow.

Four easy steps for the Grapefruit Trap

Step one – Cut a grapefruit in half and scoop out all the fruity flesh. (Have the grapefruit segments for breakfast if you like them!)

Step two – Late in the day place each grapefruit half in the garden in a sheltered position. The hollow part should be face down on the ground. Choose two contrasting areas if possible. Leave them overnight.

placing grapefruit by damp rocksLuce placed one half in a damp area covered in rocks.

grapefruit trap by logsTheo hid his next to some old logs covered in moss.

Step three – The next morning, carefully pick up the grapefruit halves, turning them over so that nothing falls out of them. We put them on top of a sheet of white paper on a table outside.

grapefruit trap bugsStep four – Find out what each grapefruit half has trapped.

Theo was rather keen on examining and comparing the two halves. Luce decided she didn’t want to have a close up view.

checking bugs in grapefruit trap

Luce hiding eyes

So what did we find in our winter grapefruit trap?

baby snail on grapefruitThe grapefruit half next to the logs only trapped one little mollusc – a baby snail.

grapefruit bugsThe other half, which was in the damp rocky area, had lots of small critters. Pupae or larvae that is the question…

I found out about this experiment in the Nature Ranger book by Richard Walker. A great book filled with nature activities and facts for kids. Many gardeners also know the grapefruit trap as they use it to catch and get rid of slugs in the garden.

Grapefruit trap for all seasons & locations

Young naturalists grapefruit trapBut we’re going to do the same winter experiment in the spring, summer and autumn (fall) – it’s such an easy and fun way for kids to learn more about bugs. The plan is to observe whether we catch lots more in one season and/or if there’s a big difference in the types of invertebrates depending on the weather. Perhaps if we go on holiday somewhere (wouldn’t it be nice if it was tropical…) we could try the grapefruit experiment in a completely different location and climate.

Bets are on that the grapefruit trap gathers the most bugs in the summer. Or perhaps on a wet spring day?

23 thoughts on “The Grapefruit Trap – Winter”

  1. Pingback: Country Kids from Coombe Mill | Coombe Mill

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  3. What a great idea! My Grandma used to use this for trapping slugs so she could rid her garde of them, it never occurred to me that they’d attract other insects, we’ll be giving this a go!

  4. Oohhh this is something nice! We don’t have a garden and I was thinking if we want to do this it will be in the park near us and hopefully no one will remove the fruit! Theres also a bug hotel in the park here. DO you think its okay to put this there? #countrykids

  5. What a fab idea! Really fun way to introduce scientific methods in a fun way too. I never knew this as a trick for getting slugs of the veggie garden either – will be giving that a go this year – ours have overly healthy appetites!

  6. That’s fascinating – would never have thought of doing that as a winter activity. That said, I’m not that keen on bugs so will probably put it off for a couple more years yet unless Jessica starts showing a fascination for creepy crawlies.

    1. I wasn’t sure if we’d even catch anything in winter but I think it will be a great comparison to the other seasons. Hehe don’t be surprised if your little one suddenly becomes curious…and curiouser about bugs.

  7. Kriss I love this, I was dying to know what the grapefruit experiment was and I’m not disappointed. I’m off to look at your book now and am pinning this as an idea for activity hour here on the farm. Luce’s expression made me smile, Clio would have said “ew” and looked much the same!

    1. It’s amazing how many kids just love those creepy crawlies. Hope they enjoy it Sara – with the temps so low in the Boston area there might not be anything to catch right now.

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