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Pitfall trap

Pitfall trap
Ames, Story County, Iowa, USA
Some thoughts on setting up a pitfall trap...
1. If you place them near a flood-prone stream be prepared to move them when the forecast calls for 2.5" of rain (something I failed to remember)
2. Weigh down the top, or they'll be dug up by the native fauna (something I failed to do)
... anywho, 1 of my 3 traps yielded a sample... this one was placed near the top of a grassy hill... there aren't many plants out yet:

Formicidae - 225
Entomobryidae - 45
Wood Lice - 13
Muscidae - 7
Millipedes (Julida) - 3
Slugs - 2
Lycosidae - 1
Spider (Not IDed) - 1
Acrididae - 1
Anthicidae: Notoxus - 1
Beetle larva (Not IDed) - 1

... a rather boring collection... hopefully things will be more interesting in a month or so... This pitfall trap was purchased from bioquip... the green stuff is antifreeze

Pitfall trap tricks
What follows is a little list of tricks that work pretty well.
1. I use plastic Dixie wine cups that you can buy in the supermarket.
2. Use two for each trap. Stab a hole in the bottom of one and use this one as the bottom cup. Place a second cup in this one and set the pair flush to the ground. Rainwater won't float the trap out.
3. Put some BITREX in the antifreeze. It is VERY bitter and deters coyotes, skunks,etc from drinking the fluid.
4. Make a little roof cut out of plastic one gal. milk bottles - the bottom is big enough. Four large nails hold the roof a few centimeters above the ground. This keeps rain and litter from filling the cup but lets small critters move freely.
5. I place my traps on the north side of bushes under the dripline. This keeps the trap from baking in the summer sun.

Moved from Active search and collection equipment and techniques. Trap use is a passive collection technique.

Weighing down the top...
I was doing research on island biogeography using woodlot fragments as "islands". One of my sampling methods was pitfall traps. I forgot to weigh down the top of the traps on one transect. 75% of the traps were dug up and cleaned out a couple days later. It sucks.

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