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

Your answer to the previous question was that your insect has two pairs of wings that differ greatly in structure, with the first being thick and hard or fibrous.

Wings meet in straight line
Top photo: The forewings of this insect do not overlap; rather, they meet in a straight line down the middle of its back. Can you see the faint line where the forewings meet? Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Brian Hansen.
Bottom illustration: The top wing has branching veins. The other two wings do not. Illustration: Leslie Mertz.

Are the first pair of wings stiff, do they lack branched veins, and when the insect isn’t flying, do the two wings in this pair meet in a straight line down the middle of the back?

Your insect must meet all requirements:

1) stiff (difficult to bend, or non-bendable) forewings

2) forewings (the front wings) that lack branching veins

3) forewings that meet up against each other in a straight line that runs down the length of the back. An insect with obviously overlapping wings, for instance, would not meet this requirement.

Click one of the following:

Yes, my insect’s first pair of wings are stiff, they do not have branching veins, and when it isn’t flying, the two wings in this pair meet in a straight line down the middle of the back.

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

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