Lesson Plan: Lures

Find a list of supplies and detailed procedures on how to do the lure demonstration.
Lesson Plan: Lures - Articles



To learn how lures and traps work to monitor and/or control pests*

*In the insect world, insect species find their mates through sight, sound, or smell but rarely more than one or all of these methods. Additionally, depending on the insect species, either the males are attracted to females by one these avenues or the females to the males. For the purpose of this exercise (and to keep it simple) we will act on the premise that the females are attracted to the males through all types of attraction including visual (both color and shape), sound, and smell (pheromones).


Cotton balls, snack sized zipper bags, permanent marking pen, and 2 kinds of cooking extracts that smell very different from one another like orange oil, anise, lemon, or cinnamon.

Preparation Instructions:

1. Prepare 16 zipper type bags - 8 for one extract and 8 for the other as follows:

  1. Prepare a group of 8 bags by writing the key codes below on each:
    (Adjust for your group size - if the group is smaller use only 2 female bags for a total of 6 bags; if larger, you may want to add more)
    1. Prepare 4 female bags by placing an "X" in the bottom left corner - you can add the universal female symbol1 for clarity to the other corner
    2. Prepare 4 male bags by placing one of each of the following symbols in the bottom left corner of each bag - you may want to add the universal male symbol2 to the other corner for clarity
      a. Mark 1 bag with a "Yy" (this is for a fertile male)
      b. Mark 1 bag with a "Ys" (this is for a sterile male)
      c. Mark 1 bag with a "Yts" (this is for a trap that lures through smell)
      d. Mark 1 bag with a "Ytl" (this is for a trap with sticky glue attached that lures females through looks - i.e., color, shape, etc)
    3. Add a cotton ball to each of the 8 bags
    4. Add a few drops of one of the cooking extracts to the cotton ball in each of the 8 bags (just a few drops will do, as this is very strong oil)
    5. Seal the bags
  2. Using the second extract, prepare the second set of 8 bags through the same procedure outlined above in steps 1. through 5. (make sure the second extract scent is noticeably different than the first)

Figure 1. Examples of bags are illustrated on back.

Activity Procedures

  1. Mix up the bags and pass them to participants throughout the room
  2. Instruct the participants to stand and, if space allows, have them come to the front of the room.
  3. Tell them they are now officially bug pests and, like all things in nature, they must now find a mate.
  4. Ask them to look for the symbol and code on their bags - inform them that all the X's are female bugs and all the Y's are male bugs (do not tell them anything else about the Y's.
  5. Instruct them to open their bags and smell their scent
  6. Inform the females that you are going to send them off to find a mate and that more than one female can "hook-up" with one male as long as it has the same scent as they do. Then, send the X's (females) off to find a mate (a "Y"). The males remain stationary.
  7. Instruct the females to stand by their mate once they have found one and remain there while the rest of the females find a mate.
  8. Once all have found a mate, the instructor can go to each mating group and reveal the codes along with the fate of that particular female or females according to the codes (Yy = fertile male, Ys = sterile male, Yts = a trap that lures by pheromones, and Ytl = a trap that lures by color or shape).

Figure 2.

Created by Christina Becker, Extension Specialist, Penn State Pesticide Education Program. October 2010.