Package 2-2: Science – Minibeasts in your garden

Discover the variety of minibeasts in your garden with Karen from Sydney Science Education.

Week 3 - Package 2 - Year 5 & 6 Science - Minibeasts in your garden

Things your child will need

Have these things available so your child can complete this task.


  • Minibeasts in your garden video

  • Clip board

  • Pencil

  • Activity Sheet 1: Pitfall Traps (check page 4 for equipment)

  • Activity Sheet 2: Leaf beating

  • Activity Sheet 3: Identifying minibeasts

  • Flat white tray/ice cream container

  • Hand lens

Back up

  • A hardcover book to lean on

  • Blank paper/work book

Before your child starts

Warning: Some minibeasts can bite or sting. Always tell an adult if you are looking for minibeasts. Wear gloves when collecting and looking in leaf litter.

Make sure your child has everything ready that they will need at the start of the lesson.

What your child needs to do

  1. Watch the Minibeasts in your garden video.

  2. Discuss the classification of animals. Animals that have backbones are called vertebrates and animals without are called invertebrates.

  3. Discuss the term anthropoids (insects and spiders) and other backyard minibeasts. Why are minibeasts important? How would you go about finding them in your garden or local park?

  4. Together list all the important things. Some examples are bees pollinating and insects and worms keeping our soils healthy and minibeasts as food and medicine.

  5. Follow instructions on Activity Sheet 1 (below): Making a pitfall trap to make and set one up. From the findings complete the data sheet for the pitfall trap.

What your child can do next

Use the identification guide in Activity Sheet 2 to further identify your findings. Repeat Activity 1 in a different location and compare results.

Options for your child

Activity too hard?

Use the identification sheet to go into the back yard or local park to look for minibeasts. Using the chart identify what minibeast you find.

Activity too easy?

Do observations and collect data in different locations and different times of the day.

  • Write a list of animals that start with each letter of the alphabet from A-Z.

  • Next, mark with an I (Invertebrate) of V (Vertebrate) to classify the animals eg. A - Ant eater (V) C - Crab (I).

Extension/Additional activity

Activity sheet 1: Pitfall traps

Pitfall traps sampling involves placing a small container buried to ground level so that it can collect anything that falls into it. Pitfall traps are the most commonly used technique. They catch a large amount of material for very little effort, most commonly ants, spiders and beetles. They are also easy to standardise.


  • Small shovel

  • Plastic jars with opening smaller than 45mm

  • Small sheets of cardboard

  • Wet trap: enough water to fill 2cm at the bottom of the jar and a few drops of detergent.

  • Dry trap: margarine

  • Labels for each pitfall traps

  • Clipboard with the data sheet

  • Activity sheet 3: Identification minibeasts


  1. Select your sites - three in lawn and three in leaf litter - and write down what each site is called (for example, ‘Leaf litter 1’).

Grass on the ground with 2 trees. Six arrows pointing to the different testing sites for the pitfall traps. This diagram shows the importance of spreading out your traps.

  1. Label all cups or jars with the name of the site (for example, ‘Lawn 2’). You can put the label on the outside of your jar or place it in the bottom of the jar.

  2. Bury a small jar up to its neck in the ground at your selected site. Jar - maximum 45mm width. Bury just below ground level.Diagram of a small jar buried in the ground so that the opening of the jar is in line with the ground level.

  3. Fill the jar with 2 cm of water and add a drop of detergent to break the surface tension of the water or leave the cup dry and smear margarine inside the upper part of the jar.

Diagram shows the small jar buried in the ground with two centimetres of water in the jar.

  • Wet trap - fill jar with 2cm of water and a drop of detergent

  • Dry trap - smear margarine inside the upper part of the jar

  1. Place a piece of cardboard over the jar, slightly raised on some pebbles. Invertebrates will scuttle under the board for shelter and fall into your pitfall trap.

  2. Leave the traps in place overnight then go back and collect them, keeping careful note of which traps were in lawn and which were in leaf litter.Diagram shows the jar buried in the ground with a piece of carboard sitting over the top of the jar, raised by a pebble at each end so that they invertebrates hide under the cardboard and end up in the trap.

NOTE - Check on the traps in the afternoon and morning for vertebrate by-catch. If small invertebrates are found remove them immediately.

Pitfall traps: Data sheets

Set up the pitfall trap following the directions on Activity 1 - Pitfall traps, one in an open area and the other on a leafy litter. Then fill in the following information.



Name of site:


Weather conditions:

Table 1: Number of specimens found in each trap.

Type of organism Open area Leaf litter













Activity Sheet 2: Identifying minibeasts

Warning: Some minibeasts can bite or sting. Always tell an adult if you are looking for Minibeasts. Wear gloves when collecting and looking in leaf litter

Leaf Litter sorting

Wear gloves to collect leaf litter and put it in a white tray. Use a stick, tweezers or a clean paint brush to sort through the leaf litter. You will see dark minibeasts moving against the white background. Use the images to help identify what you have found.

Beetles: ColeopteraPicture of a beetle.

  • Over 350,000 identified species

  • Chewing mouthparts

  • 2 hard wing coverings

Ants, bees, wasps, sawflies: Hymenoptera

  • Over 150,000 identifies species

AntsPicture of an ant.

  • Body constricted at 'waist'.

  • Mouthparts for chewing or munching.

WaspImage of a wasp

  • Body constricted at 'waist'.

  • Mouthparts for chewing or munching.

  • Abdomen tip with long spike

Image of a bee and a cockroach below.Bee

  • Body constricted at 'waist'

  • Eyes large to very large

  • Hind legs enlarged with forked hairs

Cockroaches: Blattodea

  • Body oval, flattened

  • Mouthparts for chewing or munching

  • Many species do not have wings

Bugs: Hemiptera

  • Over 60,000 identifies species

  • All bugs have tube-like mouthparts for piercing and sucking

Three bug subgroups:

True bugs:Picture of a bug.

Cicadas and hoppersPicture of a cicada

Psyllids, aphids, scale insects, whitefliesPicture of a small fly

Flies and mosquitoes: DipteraPicture of a fly

  • Antennae generally short

  • One pair of functional wings

Moths and butterflies: LepidopteraPicture of a butterfly

  • Over 300,000 identifies species

  • Have overlapping scales

  • Antennae never longer than body

  • Mouthparts long feeding tube coiled

  • Two pairs of wings often patternedPicture of a dragon fly

Dragonflies and damselflies: Odonata

  • Body long and narrow

  • Antennae short and hair-like

  • Eyes large and bulging

  • Dragonflies: wings held outstretched

  • Damselflies: wings pressed togetherPicture of a praying mantis

Praying mantis: Mantodea

  • Head triangular

  • Wings are held flat over body

  • Forelegs rows of sharp spikes

Grasshoppers, Locusts, Crickets, Katydids - OrthopteraPicture of a grasshopper

  • One or two pairs of wings

  • Wings cover abdomen

  • Hind legs shaped like a drumstick

Spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites: ArachnidaPicture of a spiderPicture of a scorpion

  • Over 60,000 identifies species

  • 8 legs

  • 2 body parts

Worm: AnnelidaPicture of a worm

  • Long segmented body

Snails and slugs – GastropodaPicture of a snail

  • Body soft and slimy

  • Shell obvious in snails

  • Have one or two tentacles

Stick insects – PhasmatodeaStick insect

  • Body stick or leaf shaped

  • At rest wings are held flat or rolled around body

Centipedes – ChilopodaCentipede

  • One pair of legs per body segment

  • 15 to 191 pairs of legs (always an odd number)

  • Body tip has thread-like appendagesMillipede

Millipedes – Diplopoda

  • Body usually curved

  • Most coil or roll into a ball when disturbed

Slaters – IsopodaSlater

  • 7 pairs of legs 1 per segment

  • 2 pairs of antennae

  • Wide with curved surface

  • Many roll into a ball

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