How to Take Part

Thank you for taking part again this year.  Here’s your step-by-step plan for this year’s BWS.
Before you start: LOGIN HERE!

1. Register Traps For the current Session

This year, we are inviting you to trap wasps in 2 separate sessions again; one in at the start of August and one in the usual August-September slot. As as you add traps, make you select which session the trap is part of.

The reason to add a second sampling trapping session is that we are largely missing all of the Dolichovespula species, as their colony cycles end before the end of August. We’d like to get better distribution data for these species.

Once you are logged in, you can register one or more traps. Visit your account page to see what traps you have registered, and what session and status they are in. From here you will also be able to add traps, update your password and change your email address.

If you want to put out traps in different positions, you need to register each trap separately.

2. Making Your Traps

  • Cut the top third off a plastic drinks bottle (ideally a 1 litre bottle, but any size will work). Turn the cut part upside down and put it, hole downwards, into the bottom part of the bottle, to create a funnel.
  • Attach a piece of string to your bottle by punching some holes through the side so that you can hang it up.
  • Pour half a can(about 200ml) or beer (lager preferably) into the bottom of your bottle – the top of the inverted bottle shouldn’t touch the liquid. You can use 200ml orange juice if you prefer.

Here’s a quick YouTube Video that takes you through the steps needed.
NOTE: This is an old video! This year we are not asking you to post them to us, but to identify them yourselves…

3. Put Your Trap Out

You must put out your trap for 7 days (no more, no less) any time between the start and end dates for each session.

Session 1: Start your traps Sat 5th Aug – Sun 13th Aug.
Session 2: Start your traps Sat 26th Aug – Sun 3rd Sep.

  • Hang up your wasp traps about 1.5m from the ground in a tree or bush, or fence post in your garden; be sure to position it as far away from playing or sitting areas as possible.
  • Leave your trap out for 7 days.

4. Collect Your Insects

  • After 7 days take your trap down. Best to do this in the early morning or dusk, to be sure there will be no wasps around. Although the wasps in your trap should all be dead, there may be a couple that are still alive in the liquid. Be sure not to handle these directly: we advise you to wear rubber gloves (e.g. washing up gloves).
  • Drain off the fluid using a kitchen sieve. Rinse your insects under a tap and leave them to dry thoroughly on a piece of kitchen towel.
  • Tip onto a dry piece of kitchen towel and tin foil
    Tip your dry catch (wasps and all other insects) onto a sheet of aluminium or tin foil, lined with kitchen paper.
  • If you are not going to identify your wasps immediately, carefully wrap the tin foil around the insects, to form a little parcel: don’t squash it down too much – squashed wasps are harder to identify! If you have more than one trap, please wrap the contents of each trap in separate packages of foil and put a label on the outside. Pop your tin foil package(s) in the freezer until you are ready to identify them.

Please read this wasp handling advice

5. Identify Your Wasps!

Recent years were a bit of a problem – COVID19 meant we couldn’t get hold of your samples easily, so again, we are asking you to identify your own wasps at home. Head on over to our At Home Identification section to see our resources. We suggest you start by watching all the videos to get an idea of what we are expecting.

6. Fill in Your Trap Details

Once you have identified your insects, we need you to fill in the online forms to provide us with the details of your traps. We want to know about everything that you catch, even if your trap includes insects other than wasps. Not catching any wasps or catching other insects at your location is very valuable data for this project.

  • Visit your account page where you will find a list of your traps.  Click on one to see edit the form, letting us know how many wasps and other insects you caught, and other trap details

7. Post Identification Quiz!

After you have completed this year’s Big Wasp Survey: At Home, invite you to complete the Post Identification Survey Quiz!

Please do this after taking part, to see how your identification skills and confidence have changed and give us feedback.