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

Your answer to the previous question was that your insect does not have this combination of characteristics: a flat body with a shield-like pronotum that partially or completely covers its head.

Rasping forelegs, triangular head
This is an example of an insect with a triangular-shaped head. Notice how is is wide at the top near the eyes and tapers down almost to a point as it reaches the mouth. This insect also has enlarged forelegs (green arrow), which are much broader than its other legs (the yellow arrow points to a middle leg, which is set on top of a leaf). Also, notice how the forelegs are armed with spines, all of which are black in this insect. Photo credit: Leslie Mertz.

Does your insect have enlarged, rasping, spiny forelegs; and a triangular-shaped head?

The forelegs are the front pair. In most insects, the forelegs are about the same size as the middle pair. This question is asking whether the forelegs are larger and are also armed with spines that run down the side of the leg.

This question is also asking you to look at the head. A triangular-shaped head will be wide at the top near the eyes, and then become narrower and narrower toward the mouth. This gives the insect’s head a triangular, or heart-shaped appearance.

Click one of the following:

Yes, my insect has enlarged, rasping, spiny forelegs; and a triangular-shaped head.

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

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