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Insect Identification Key
Identify Insects in Michigan ... and beyond!

Parts of an insect leg
The insect leg has three main parts: the femur (thigh), the tibia (shin) and tarsus (foot). In addition, it has two smaller parts known as the trochanter and the coxa. As the illustration shows, the tarsus is made up of several segments. Some insects have more segments than others. When counting the tarsal segments, do not count the claws at the end. This illustration shows the claws as tiny lines at the tip of the tarsus, but some insects have larger claws. In this illustration, the tarsus has five segments. Illustration credit: Nicholas W. Beeson.

Your answer to the previous question was that your insect does not have antennae that are shorter than its head.

Is your insect small, and does it have tarsi with two or three segments?

“Small” in this question means less than 10 mm (less than 0.4 inches) long.

To determine the number of segments in your insect’s tarsi (tarsi is the plural form; tarsus is singular), look at the last section of its leg and count the segments. See the illustration at right. When counting the tarsal segments, do not count the tiny claws at the end.

Click one of the following:

Yes, my insect is tiny and has tarsi with two or three segments.

No, my insect does not have this set of characteristics.

I would like to return to the start of this key.

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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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