This activity was in the 2001 Particles and Prairies Sampler. See the 2006 Sampler

Baked Potato Invertebrate Trap

Table of Contents - Activities:

Invertebrates - Fermilab Quadrat Study - Prairie - School Quardat Study - Baked Potato

PURPOSE: The purpose of this activity/lab is to capture and examine invertebrates in the soil.

OBJECTIVE: Students will identify organisms found in the soil


  • Baked Potatoes - halved - three halves per group
  • Small plastic "baggies"
  • Dissection probes, toothpicks or shish-kabob skewers
  • Hand lenses or dissection microscopes


  • Prepare baked potatoes and place cut side down on a section of moist soil.
  • Repeat in well-drained and dry soil.
  • Allow to remain in place 24-48 hours undisturbed.
  • Remove potato carefully from soil and examine. (invertebrates may have penetrated interior of potato - use probe to examine.
  • Use hand lenses to observe. Classify according to type. (Insect, worm, snail, etc.
  • Collect group data and build conclusion based on all soil types.
    Use student data sheet.


  • Does there appear to be a difference in the type of organisms at each site? Explain.
  • Why might such differences occur?
  • Compare these organisms to those discovered with the Berlese Funnel. Are there any differences? Why or why not?
  • Can you think of any other "bait" for invertebrates? Name at least three. What might you find?
  • Why are these organisms in the soil?
  • Are soil invertebrates considered good or bad? Explain.
  • Did the type of soil make a difference in the number or type of organisms?

Program Contact: Spencer Pasero -
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Last Update: March 6, 2001