Canadian Forest Service Publications

A technical guide to installing beetle traps in the upper crown of trees. 2014. Hughes, C.C.; Johns, R.C.; Sweeney, J.D. Journal of the Acadian Entomological Society 10: 12–18.

Year: 2014

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35735

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Mark record


The upper tree crown represents an important habitat for many insect herbivores but, being much less commonly sampled than the understory, remains poorly understood. Here, we provide detailed instructions and quantitative cost (time) estimates for setting up insect traps in the upper crown of trees using methods adapted from tree-climbing canopy ecologists. In a sample experiment, we recorded the time it took for a two-person crew (“shooter” and assistant) to install traps in the upper crown vs. the understory of a mature stand of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière (Pinaceae)), with trees 18–24 m tall. A crew with 3 yrs experience with these methods took an average of 5 min 38 s (range 3 min 13 s to 17 min 39 s) to install a trap in the upper crown, whereas an inexperienced field technician took an average of 7 min 1 s per tree (range 5 min 47 s to 9 min 19 s). In comparison, it required on average only 1 min 19 s (experienced) and 1 min 48 s (inexperienced) to install a trap in the understory. We used an average of 50 m (range 31–61 m) of rope per crown trap compared with 4.5 m (range 3.5–5.5 m) per understory traps, which translated to a difference in cost of CDN$2.50 per trap, based on 2013 prices. Our results demonstrate that it costs more in time and materials to place traps in the upper crown vs. the understory, but the additional costs are modest. Furthermore, we show that an inexperienced person can learn how to set high traps quickly by following the step-by-step instructions laid out in this paper. We hope this both encourages and enables more use of traps in the upper crown as well as the understory when surveying for species of bark- and wood-boring beetles and other forest insects.

Plain Language Summary

As the intercontinental movement of goods increases in Canada, the possibility also increases that non-native bark- and wood-boring beetles will be accidentally introduced into its urban and rural forests. These beetles are potentially invasive, meaning they may become established and create significant ecological and economical damage. Some agencies will screen for them using insect traps installed at chest height (1.5 m above ground). However, research over the past several years has shown that the number and species of beetles can vary between the lower and upper reaches of the tree crown, suggesting that we should adopt new ways to monitor at varying heights. In this paper, we detail the steps required to install an insect trap in the upper crown of trees using the ”slingshot method” and describe the equipment needed. Also described are the many pitfalls we encountered when testing these techniques. The cost and time needed to install “high” vs. “low” traps and experienced vs. inexperienced personal are provided.