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

Now these are some big jaws!
The two pictured insects both have very large, pincer-like jaws. The top insect’s jaws look almost like a sideways bird beak, or the pinching tip of a pair of plyers. The jaws in the bottom insect are enormous, sword-like structures that sweep forward more than a inch from the head. Public-domain photos.

Your answer to the previous question was that your insect does not have this set of characteristics: a long thorax, two small cerci and smoky-colored wings.

Does your insect have very large, pincer-like jaws that extend out from the front of its head?

If your insect has this characteristic, it will be very obvious. Insects with “very large, pincer-like jaws” have just that. For an example, see the photo at right.

Click one of the following:

Yes, my insect has very large, pincer-like jaws.

No, my insect does not have this feature.

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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