Ever wonder what kinds of insects make their homes in trees and shrubs? Find them the same way bug scientists do — by shaking them loose onto this simple screen.
Who told us about it: The Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve of Austin, Texas, where in the spring, they find little beetles, lacewings, spiders, leafhoppers, and inchworms, plus the larval stages of various insects, on their shaker nets.
Secure the fabric in the hoop as shown. Trim off the extra cloth to an inch or so from the ring.
Hold the shaker net like a platter, with the fabric on the bottom, and slide it under a bush or hold it under a tree branch. Shake the plant vigorously, then pull out the net and investigate your finds. To keep active insects from taking off while your child examines them, cover them gently with an upside-down jar or bug viewer.
Why it works: While most bugs are good climbers, they're not always able to hold on tightly, especially when startled. And once they're on the net, even flying insects often will crawl around for a while, disoriented, before taking to the air.