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

Your answer to the previous question was that your insect’s first pair of wings is stiff and lacks branched veins, and when the insect is at rest, the pair meet in a straight line down the middle of the back.

This insect has a pair of large claw-like cerci at the end of its abdomen. Photo credit: Amanda McCreless.

Does your insect have a pair of significant claw-like cerci at the tip of the abdomen?

This question is asking about the cerci, which some insects possess. The cerci are appendages at the tip of the abdomen, and come in many forms: long and filamentous (like thread), short and thick, or curved to look like claws. If your insect has very noticeable cerci that look like claws or pincers, your answer to this question is “yes.”

Click one of the following:

Yes, my insect has a pair of significant claw-like cerci at the tip of the abdomen.

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,; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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