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

Your answer to the previous question was that your insect doesn’t have long hind legs that have enlarged femurs.

Assorted cockroaches
All of the insects in this illustration have a flat body with a head that is at least partially covered by a shield-like pronotum. Figure D shows how the pronotum extends forward so that only part of the head is visible from above. Illustration credit: USDA/Robert E. Snodgrass, Insects: Their Way and Means of Living, figure 49, 1930.

Does your insect have a flat body, and a head partially or completely covered by a shield-like pronotum?

Look at the dorsal side (the top) of the thorax for a prominent pronotum. The pronotum will look somewhat like armor or a shield that covers at least the first segment of the thorax. In some insects, the pronotum extends forward and covers part or most of the head, too, and this question is asking whether your insect has this feature. See the illustration.

If you see this characteristic and your insect has a dorsoventrally flattened body, your answer is “yes.” Helpful hint: Insects with these characteristics are also typically found in a dark place — or scrambling to get to a dark place.

Click one of the following:

Yes, my insect has a flat body, and a head partially or completely covered by a pronotum.

No, my insect does not have these characteristics.

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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