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Winged Insect Key


Identification | Process


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The Winged Insect Key relates various questions to an insect in an attempt to decipher its order for further identification.

Our twenty-one point winged insect key can assist you in identifying a winged insect. Beginning with Question #1, determine which statement ('a' or 'b') is true for the insect in question. From there, simply follow the directions at the end of the true statement until you are ultimately given the name of the Order your insect belongs to. Finally, visit our list pages to specifically identify your insect.
Question 1
a. Insect has 1 pair of wings - YES, Order Diptera (flies, mosquitoes)
b. Insect has 2 pair of wings - YES, go to Question #2

Question 2
a. Insect has extremely long prothorax (neck) region - YES, go to Question #3
b. Insect has "regular" length or no prothorax at all - YES, go to Question #4

Question 3
a. Forelegs come together in a "praying" position - YES, Order Mantodea (mantids)
b. Forelegs do NOT come together in a "praying" position - YES, Order Raphidoptera (snakeflies)

Question 4
a. Wings are "armor-like" with membraneous hind wings underneath - YES, Order Coleoptera (beetles)
b. Wings are NOT "armor-like" - YES, go to Question #5

Question 5
a. Wings twist when insect is in flight - YES, Order Strepsiptera (twisted-wing parasite)
b. Wings flap up-and-down without twisting - YES, go to Question #6

Question 6
a. Wings are triangular in shape - YES, go to Question #7
b. Wings are NOT triangular in shape - YES, go to Question #8

Question 7
a. Insect lacks a proboscis and has long filaments at abdominal tip - YES, Order Ephemeroptera (mayflies)
b. Insect has a proboscis and lacks long filaments at abdominal - YES, Order Lepidoptera (butterflies)

Question 8
a. Head is elongated (snout-like) - YES, Order Mecoptera (scorpionflies)
b. Head is NOT elongated (snout-like) - YES, go to Question #9

Question 9
a. Insect has 2 pair of cerci (pincers) at tip of abdomen - YES, Order Dermaptera (earwigs)
b. Insect does NOT have 2 pair of cerci (pincers at tip of abdomen - YES, go to Question #10

Question 10
a. All 4 wings are both similar in size and in shape to each other - YES, go to Question #11
b. All 4 wings are NOT similar in size nor in shape to each other - YES, go to Question #16

Question 11
a. Eyes nearly cover or make up entire head - YES, Order Odonata (dragonflies)
b. Eyes do NOT nearly cover nor make up entire head - YES, go to Question #12

Question 12
a. All 4 wings are finely veined and are almost 2x longer than abdomen - YES, Order Isoptera (termites)
b. All 4 wings are NOT finely veined and are NOT almost 2x longer than abdomen - YES, go to Question #13

Question 13
a. All 4 wings are transparent with many crisscrossing veins - YES, Order Neuroptera (lacewings)
b. All 4 wings are NOT transparent with many crisscrossing veins - YES, go to Question #14

Question 14
a. Mouth parts are beak-like and are far back beneath the head - YES, Order Homoptera (leaf hoppers)
b. Mouth parts are NOT beak-like and are NOT far back beneath the hear - YES, go to Question #15

Question 15
a. Fan-like hind wings fold flat under forewings covering most of abdomen - YES, Order Plecoptera (stoneflies)
b. Hind wings fold "roof-like" and are wider at the base than the forewings - YES, Order Megaloptera (dobsonflies)

Question 16
a. Insect is less than 3mm long and has 3 simple eyes as well as compound eyes - YES, Order Zoraptera (zorapterans)
b. Insect lacks 3 simple eyes in addition to lacking compound eyes - YES, go to Question #17

Question 17
a. Insect has long hind legs used for jumping and a flat-sided head - YES, Order Orthoptera (crickets, grasshoppers)
b. Insect lacks long hind legs and has a typical rounded head - YES, go to Question #18

Question 18
a. Membraneous wings have tiny hairs on (around) them; body also has tiny hairs - YES, Order Trichoptera (caddisflies)
b. Wings lack tiny hairs on (around) them - YES, go to Question #19

Question 19
a. Forewings are half-leathery (at base) and half-membraneous (at tip) in texture - YES, Order Hemiptera (squash bugs)
b. Forewings are uniform in texture and appearance - YES, go to Question #20

Question 20
a. Body is both oval and flattened - YES, Order Blattodea (cockroaches)
b. Body is not both oval and flattened - YES, go to Question #21

Question 21
a. Insect has a constricted waist - YES, Order Hymenoptera (bees, wasps)
b. Insect lacks a constricted waist - YES, Order Embioptera (web-spinners)

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