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Insect Identification Key
Bagworms of the Order Lepidoptera

This is the larva of a bagworm, Thyrirlopteryx ephemeraeformis. The larva, or caterpillar, lives inside a silken case that it makes and covers with dead leaves. In this photo, the case is covered with the scaly leaves of a conifer. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service/Jeff M. Fengler.

Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your insect as being a bagworm, which is in the order Lepidoptera!

General characteristics:

Bagworms are female adult moths and larval moths (caterpillars) of the family Psychidae. The females are wingless, look much like grubs, actually stay inside their pupal casing throughout their lives, and live within “bags” that they make out of different materials, such as pine needles, leaves, and bits of twigs held together with silk. The larvae similarly make bags and live within them. The males have wings.

Moths in the family Tineidae are also known as bagworms. In this family, the larvae form the “bags” (the females do not live within bags). The larva pokes its head and front legs out of the bag and drags the bag along. Such larvae are known by the common names of Plaster Bagworm (Phereoeca uterella) or Household Casebearer (Phereoeca allutella).

To learn about other characteristics of the order Lepidoptera, click here.


Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Subphylum Hexapoda
         Class Insecta
            Order Lepidoptera

For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.

Oops! If this doesn't appear to be the correct identification of your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!

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Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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