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

Your answer to the previous question was that your insect has chewing mouthparts, front wings that are fibrous and heavily veined, and hind wings that are folded like a fan.

Enlarged femur
This is an example of an insect with large hind legs and an enlarged femur. Compare the size of the hind leg (red arrow) to that of the foreleg (yellow arrow). If you imagine extending both the foreleg and the hind leg, you can see that the hind leg is easily more than twice the length of the foreleg. The femur (green arrow) of the hind leg is also much enlarged compared to the femur of the foreleg. Photo credit: Amanda McCreless.

Does your insect have hind legs that are at least twice as long as its other legs, and does each hind leg have an enlarged femur?

Compare the length of a hind leg to that of either the foreleg or the middle leg. Is it considerably longer?

Next, compare the femur on the hind wing to the femur or either the front or middle leg. An insect’s leg has three main sections: the femur, which is the section of the leg that is closest to the body, the tibia, which is the middle section, and the tarsus, which is the section farthest from the body (the small claws are at the end).

Insects that have especially long hind legs and enlarged hind-leg femurs are typically good jumpers. The length of the leg combined with the powerful femur help to propel the insect.

Click one of the following:

Yes, my insect has long hind legs with enlarged femurs.

No, my insect does not have this 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, DailyGraceCards.com; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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