• Do you know groups who are looking to learn more about insects or forest health?
  • Are you interested in participating in real-world scientific research?
  • Do you need kid friendly projects?
  • Do you need free species level identification of bark and ambrosia beetles?
If you answered yes, then we might have the perfect project for you!

Why Participate?

This citizen science project provides a rare opportunity for the public to participate in real-world scientific research. Participants help to advance our understanding of bark and ambrosia beetles, which will help us to protect forests and the species that depend on them. This project has been designed as an easy and fun activity to teach kids and adults about these amazing and important creatures.

Why is the project important?

The beetles we collect, called bark and ambrosia beetles, are important to the environment because some species help clean up dead wood. Unfortunately, other species are pests that can wipe out entire populations of some tree species. These beetles are also economically important as some can attack fruit trees. The beetles are so small that they are easy to transport yet hard to find and are now becoming a growing threat to our forests and crops! Learn moreā€¦


We have developed a set of resources that can be used by teachers, Master Gardeners, Florida Naturalists, 4-H extension agents, parents and any person interested in our project.

For Everyone


For Everyone

This project has been designed as an easy and fun activity that can be done by anyone who is interested in knowing what’s in their backyard and want to contribute to our understanding of these amazing beetles.
Here are some of the resources we have developed for you:

  • Brochure: general information about the project
  • Instruction manual: the project step by step
  • Flyer: instructions on how to prepare and settle the traps and how to send the beetles

Also see resources for teachers; master gardeners & and master naturalist and; 4-H programs, summer camps & after school programs.

For Schools


For Schools

The simplicity of the project allows to use it as a teaching tool that can be adapted basically to any grade. It can be used as a resource and hands-on activity for themes as variable as scientific method, life cycles, native vs exotic species, biological interactions (i.e. symbiosis), entomology, threats to forests, and many more. We have prepared some resources that can be used by teachers, parent volunteers, interns, master gardeners, etc.

The activity meets many state and core standards and as an example we have prepared a handout for 4th and 5th grade teachers that explain how the project meets some standards.

See the feedback we have received from the kids that have done the activity

Florida Master Naturalists


Florida Master Naturalist

The project can be used as a hands-on teaching tool for the Upland Systems Module of the program.

  • Handout for instructors: brief description of how the project can enrich the FMNP courses by adding a hands-on activity or as a final project for the students.
  • Instruction manual: the project step by step
  • Flyer: instructions on how to prepare and settle the traps and how to send the beetles

Also, the project was designed to be accessible to any citizen, from kids to nature enthusiast, and as such it is a perfect tool for FMNP students to share their knowledge with family and friends or in formal environmental education. Our resources for teachers can be used for such purposes!

4-H, summer camps, after school programs, master gardeners


4H and more

If you work with kids this is a fun activity that can be also used as a learning experience to promote environmental awareness and demonstrate responsibility and collaboration. Citizen science projects show kids that they are already in position to help scientists and can be scientists themselves!

Here are some resources you can use to implement the project:

  • Brochure: general information about the project
  • Instruction manual: the project step by step
  • Power point presentation: can be used by any teacher! It explains what are ambrosia and bark beetles, why they are important, and the steps to follow to participate in this project!
  • Flyer for kids: instructions for the kids on how to prepare and set the traps

Landowners, property managers, extension agents


Landowners and others

This project is a great activity to get to know, at the species level, what bark and ambrosia beetles can be found in your property. Experts at the University of Florida and Michigan State University identify the beetles and will provide through this webpage (see our beetle map!) the species name, a brief decription and wether it is a native or exotic species. These documents might be of help:

  • Brochure: general information about the project
  • Instruction manual: the project step by step
  • Flyer: instructions on how to prepare and settle the traps and how to send the beetles

Interested in participating?

If you want to be a part of our real-world bug science (also known as "entomology"), you can...

#1   Join the Project!

Desired Username:

Create Password:

...and get ready for trapping season!
The beetles are not very active in the fall and winter, so let's get ready for the spring. When February rolls in again, that's when you go to step 2...

#2   Catch beetles

Step 1: Get Supplies!
soda bottle (2 liter), hand sanitizer (alcohol-based, Purell is best), string, spoon, small ziploc bag

Step 2: Make Your Trap!

click to download a printout

Step 3: Collect the Beetles
Every three days, collect your beetles and put them in a tube of hand sanitizer in the freezer.

After three collections, send them to us...

#3   Send 'em in

Where to Send Your Beetles...
...in the Eastern/Southern US
...in the Western/Northern US

Log in to get your SAMPLE NUMBER and to add your beetles to the Beetle Map!

#4   See What Lives In Your Backyard

Beetles in your neighborhood

More interesting stuff here

Learn more about Bark and Ambrosia Beetles at Ambrosia Symbiosis for now! We will be posting more information here very soon.

  • What's this project all about anyways?

    The beetles that you'll be catching will be used for important scientific research. The map on the left is part of what we're doing. This is called distribution mapping and the point is to try to collect as many different beetle species as we can from all over Florida, the United States, and even the world to get a picture of where these beetles are living. This kind of information is important to know, because some of these species can be dangerous to forests and even to agricultural crops like avocados. After you send in your beetles, they will be identified by the experts at the University of Florida and that information will show up on the map to the left.
  • Why do beetles fall into hand sanitizer?

    When a tree dies, the process of wood degradation produces alcohol. Bark and ambrosia beetles evolved an attraction to alcohol because they need to find dead trees to reproduce. Hand sanitizers contain lots of alcohol, and that's we can use them to attract bark beetles!
  • What are these "bark beetles?"

    These beetles are much more that just what the name says: yes, many live in bark, but many also live inside trees and grow gardens of fungi for food (those are called ambrosia beetles). Many live in a strange family system with one brother an many sisters that have babies together. Several species are the world's most destructive forest pests which, with the help of climate change, are turning Canada into grasslands. Want to know more? Click on the species that you trapped on the map, or visit our website: www.ambrosiasymbiosis.org.
  • Several cool beetle species

    • the redbay ambrosia beetle, a foreigner from Asia that's destroying Florida's forests and the avocado industry: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in886
    • the Southern Pine Beetle: a native pest that once used to kill thousands of acres of pines yearly (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in333) but now it is a rare insect!
    • the granulated ambrosia beetle: the most common beetle in your trap is probably not a native insect, but this invader from Asia: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in288

questions? comments?

email us at lab @ backyardbarkbeetles.org or connect with us on Facebook!