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

Your answer to the previous question was that your insect has a dorsoventrally flattened body.

Chewing mouthparts
Insects with chewing mouthparts have mouthparts similar to those shown here, although they may be larger or smaller, depending on the species. The jaws of an insect include two mandibles and two maxillae (one mandible and one maxilla on each side of the head). The labrum is an insect’s version of an upper lip. Illustration credit: Leslie Mertz.

Does your insect have either of the following characteristics: biting/chewing mouthparts, or no visible mouthparts?

Insects have several types of mouthparts, including:
• biting or chewing mouthparts, which are jaws that move side to side (rather than up and down like ours do)
sucking mouthparts, which often look thin and straight tubes. or coiled tubes
• piercing mouthparts, which often look like small blades, and may be held down along the body — these are often also used to suck up fluids that the blade accesses
• lapping mouthparts, which the insect can extend downward to sop up fluids

If your insect has either biting mouthparts or no visible mouthparts, answer “yes.”

Click one of the following:

Yes, my insect has either biting mouthparts, or no visible mouthparts.

No, my insect does not have either characteristic.

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

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Unless noted otherwise, photographs on this website are the property of the photographers and may not be reused without written permission from the photographers. To obtain permission, email the photographers here. High-resolution versions of the photographs are available.

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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