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

Your answer to the previous question was that your insect did not have the following characteristic: very large, pincer-like jaws that extend out from the front of its head.

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This is an example of an insect with an elongated prothorax (green arrow). The long prothorax makes it look rather like it has a very long neck. Also notice the long ovipositor extending from the rear of the abdomen. The ovipositor looks somewhat like a long stinger. When measuring the length of your insect’s body, do not count the ovipositor. Photo credit: Olaru Andreea.

Does your insect have all three of these characteristics: an elongated prothorax, so that its head extends out in front of its body; a body that is less than 1 inch long; and prominent compound eyes set to the sides of a rather flattened head?

The prothorax is the first segment of the thorax (the segment immediately behind the head). If your insect has this characteristic, its head will sit a distance away from its body, rather like it has an extremely long neck. The length of the body is the length from the tip of its head to the end of its abdomen. Do not count the ovipositor when measuring the length of the body! (Some females have a long, thin, stick-like appendage extending from the rear of the abdomen. This is the ovipositor.) Also check the insect for the presence of a rather flattened head with noticeable compound eyes that are situated one on each side.

Click one of the following:

Yes, my insect has all three characteristics: an elongated prothorax, a body that is less than 1 inch long, and prominent compound eyes, one set on each side of its rather flat head.

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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