Making a bug lab is a simple and fun craft for young campers and scouts, alike. With a simple 2-liter bottle and some imagination, you can have a very inexpensive activity that can be a learning experience and source of entertainment for both big & little campers.
Before you start, you may want to make up a small bug identification card or other means for the campers to identify the critters that they might catch. And it’s also a good idea to have cleaned out the soda bottles before you start, as the sticky dried sugar may attract bees!
In addition to the clean 2-liter bottles, you may want to have some other items ready to build your bug lab. A pile of small sticks, dirt or sand, fresh grass clippings, leaves, and other vegetation should be on-hand to lay down a nice bed & meal for future bug inhabitants. Remember: all of the items will need to fit in the mouth of the soda bottle. Once you have everything, here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Clean out the soda bottle
I know…just a reminder in case you forgot. Also, if you really want to be thorough, you can remove the wrapper before you get into the woods so that you have time to scrub off the bottle from the wrapper glue. There's also nothing wrong with using a 1-liter bottle or a 20-ounce soda bottle. I would just stay away from glass bottles(for obvious reasons!)
Step 2: Put some air holes in the bottle
This keeps your bug lab from turning into a bug oven if left in the sun. This step also seems overly simple, but thanks to modern plastics…it’s not! If you have a cordless drill, use an 1/8” drill bit and drill 8-10 holes in the top. Any bigger and the smaller bugs will escape. Do NOT use a knife or awe for this, as the plastic is pretty strong and you have a better chance of puncturing your hand!
Step 3: Add in your favorite bug habitat items
This can even be part of the learning experience, depending on the age of your campers / scouts. You can vary each bottle with different types of grasses and sticks and give the group index cards on what different habitats you’d like to make. For example, you can make one for caterpillars with grasses & leaves, and another with a bottom filled with moist soil for the earthen critters. You’re only limited by your own imagination.
Making a bug lab as a group or individual project is a fun way to condone bug collecting. Add in a bug chart and a magnifying glass and they may surprise you as to what they find right around the tent (all the more reason to zip up those flaps ;-).