Creature Survey: Count the Creatures Living in a One-Yard Grid

You might be surprised by how many creatures you can find living right at your feet. Follow these directions for conducting a simple creature survey in a one-yard grid.

Powered by:
Average Rating:
Participant Age: Under 7, 7 to 12
Approximate Cost: Under $10
Duration: 1 to 60 minutes
Difficulty:
Physical Challenge:
  • Counting Creatures chart
  • Insect field guide (optional)
  • Pencil or marker
  • Scissors
  • String
  • $name
  • Yardstick
Download and Print the Chart

Download and print the Counting Creatures chart.


Mark Off a One-Yard Square

Cut four one-yard pieces of string. Locate a grassy area, flowerbed, or other place with vegetation outside, and use the string to mark off a one-yard square.

Look for Creatures

Find and count different types of insects, worms, or other creatures within the square yard. Be sure to look beneath the grass, on plant leaves, and under rocks.


Dig Up Soil

Consider using a garden trowel to dig up a bit of soil and look for worms. Some creatures you are likely to find include ants, grasshoppers, beetles, and earthworms.

Fill Out the Chart

Make a hash mark on your chart for every creature you find. Your child can draw pictures of the creatures, and you can help write in the creatures' names. Use a field guide to help identify any unfamiliar insects.

Get More Information

The bug-counting technique in this activity is not unlike a method scientists use to gauge insect populations. They just study a larger sample area. By counting insect populations in a specific-size plot and multiplying the insect totals by the number of specific-size plots the habitat contains, scientists can estimate insect populations for an entire forest or meadow.

 

If you need help identifying any of the insects you see in your survey, these websites can help:

These field guides are also great resources:
  • Insects by Christina Wilsdon (a National Audubon Society First Field Guide)
  • Insects by Christopher Leahy (a Peterson First Guide)

Sign up to receive fun activities

Advanced Search >

Join National Wildlife Federation on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest      Join Ranger Rick on Facebook Check out Ranger Rick magazine on Twitter Visit Ranger Rick on Pinterest

RR Jr Reading Guide button
  • Set up a light and a white screen, and you'll see all sorts of new bugs at night - like a bug movie.
  • Create a list of natural items appropriate for the season and location, and see how many your children can find.
  • Discover the many different types of animal homes.
  • It’s true, some “bugs” are bothersome, but plenty aren’t pests at all. Set off on a quest for the best kinds of bugs--and see who you meet! Then invite some to live in your yard.
  • Gather great outdoor memories at your next special event by getting everyone taking photos.

 

Ranger Rick's CampZone
Ranger Rick's GreenZone
From: Ranger Rick, rick@nwf.org
Subject: { Your name goes here } sent you a laugh from Ranger Rick
Message: The following message was sent to you by { Name } from Ranger Rick's Laugh Finder website:

{ Your note }



Click here to find the answer on Ranger Rick's Laugh Finder >>
From: Ranger Rick, rick@nwf.org
Subject: { Your name goes here } sent you a question from Ranger Rick
Message: The following message was sent to you by { Name } from Ranger Rick's website:

{ Your note }



Click here to find the answer on Ranger Rick's website >>