Using Insect Traps and Lures


Note: This tip sheet is for general guidance only. Contact your County Extension agent or land grant university for more specific information on insect traps and lures.

Insect trapping basics
Insect traps consist of a visual and/or scent attractant, plus a device to capture the insect once it arrives. A visual attractant trap often resembles a food source or an egg laying or resting site used by the insect pest in nature. An example of this is a trap that looks like a large, ripe red apple that fools apple maggot flies into thinking they have found a prime egg laying site. Instead, they are stuck fast to the nondrying sticky adhesive on the surface of the trap.

A scent lure may smell like food to an insect pest or, more frequently, like a female insect "in heat." Many female insects release an odor to signal their readiness for mating. These odors, or pheromones, can be reproduced in a laboratory. This material is then applied to a rubber cap or other device and the scent is released slowly over several weeks, attracting the insects to the collection device.

  Sticky Trap

Benefits of insect trapping

  • Insect traps can often indicate if a spray is economically justified.
  • Trapping helps indicate the best possible time to spray for maximum effectiveness.
  • Traps work 24 hours a day. Even if you scout for insects each day, you won't see nocturnal insects that may be damaging your plants.
  • Traps often target adult stages of pests. These appear long before the caterpillars or grubs that feed on your plants.
  • Trapping can help you correct certain problems before they cost you money.
  • Traps can indicate problem areas, or hot spots, requiring corrective action or spot treatments without having to treat all of your plants.
  • Trapping may help reduce your use of pesticides.
  • Trapping programs give you the information you need to base and document your management decisions.
  Sphere Trap

Sample trap capture log
Keeping an accurate record of the number of insect pests you capture will help you make better spraying decisions year after year. You can use a log like this to record that information.

Trap Capture Record   Location _____________ Crop __________ Pest __________
Trap No. Date __________ Date __________ Date __________  
 9.       Grand

Grand Total __________ ÷ Total of Traps _________ = Average Captures _________

Important notes for handling all pheromone traps and lures
When traps are used with pheromone lures, the lure odor can permanently contaminate the trap. Cross-contamination with more than one lure type may reduce or even eliminate effectiveness. Do not use the same trap with a different lure type, even in different years. Mark the traps permanently with the lure type used, and always use the same lure type with that trap. Also, do not use more than one lure in a trap at the same time.

How to keep from cross-contaminating the traps?
When handling lures, do not touch the lure or the insides of the lure package (you may use disposable gloves) to avoid contaminating hands, tools or traps used for other insects. Carry empty lure packages away from the monitoring site and dispose of them properly. You can refrigerate or freeze lures for longer storage lives. Lures stored for more than one season may not retain peak effectiveness.

  Do not touch the lure
Do not touch the lure or the inside of the package.
Dos and Don'ts of Insect Traps and Lures
  • Record trap counts.
  • Discard lure away from trapping area.
  • Change lures and liners as recommended.
  • Use more than one type of lure per trap.
  • Handle different lures without washing your hands in between.
  • Puncture or cut the lure in any way. The scent will permeate the lure material more quickly.