A girl shakes the branch of a tree

Shake a tree

It's raining bugs! Tree-beating is a great way to discover an incredible world of minibeasts otherwise hidden in the branches above.

Don't worry, we're not telling you to vandalise trees, it's just a great way of finding out what interesting invertebrates (animals without backbones) live in the trees around you! 

It might sound a bit violent, but if done right, tree-beating doesn't harm the tree or the minibeasts that call it home. 

You can go tree-beating at any time of the year and you'll find different creatures depending on the time of year, but it's best to do it in fine weather when trees are dry.

Late summer and early autumn are good times for spiders, and in winter you might find leafhoppers and harvestmen on conifers. 

So grab a stick and a sheet and get closer to the wildlife lurking overhead.

 

Are you doing this activity as part of your Wild Challenge? Find out how you are progressing – are you getting closer to gold?

 

Did you know: the science of studying insects is called Entomology. Entom is the insect bit and ology means 'the study of'.

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people have completed this activity

What will you need

  • A light-coloured sheet or big piece of paper (even a light umbrella will work)
  • Our Activity sheet (download in English, Cymraeg, Bilingual)

Optional:

  • Pooter
  • Minibeast viewer (a clean jar or pot with a lid will do)
  • Small paintbrush
  • Magnifying glass
  • An invertebrate identification guide (optional) - use this simple ID sheet, or if you want to look in a little bit more detail, you could buy this guide.

Welsh/English bilingual resources are also now available for our family Wild Challenge activities/ Adnoddau dwyieithog rŵan ar gael ar gyfer gweithgareddau Sialens Wyllt

A ladybird picture

Step-by-step guide

  1. Find a tree or bush with some low hanging branches and lay your sheet underneath. You can lay it on the ground or have some helpers holding it up at the edge so minibeasts collect in the middle where it is lower.
  2. Shake the branch or carefully hit it with a stick once. There’s no need to keep hitting or shaking as you’ll get everything you’re going to with the first surprise hit or shake. After that, anything left will cling on tightly. Be gentle - you don't want to damage the tree or injure the minibeasts.
  3. The invertebrates will stand out against the pale sheet, which helps you to see them. You can just watch carefully until they fly or crawl away (using a magnifying glass if you have one). Or, you can catch some of the minibeasts (not bees or wasps) with your pooter or a paintbrush and pot and see what you've got. Many invertebrates are incredibly fast, so you’ll need your pot at the ready – placing a clear container upside-down over the creature helps you to capture it quickly and then view it.
  4. Remember that to the bugs you’re a GIANT. So be gentle and don’t hurt these tiny creatures. Put them back carefully as soon as you’ve had a look.
  5. Use an ID sheet if you want to go into a little bit more detail.
  6. Don't forget to tell us when you have completed the activity! When you mark the activity as complete, you will be asked to upload a photo, drawing, painting or a description of your experience to help earn your award.
Hawthorn shieldbug
A father and son look for bugs

Completing the activity

Use the 'Mark as complete' button at the top of this page to tell us you've completed your activity. You'll need to show us what you did by uploading a photo of what you saw or your family on the look out! Alternatively, draw or paint what you saw or upload a description of your experience.

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