Orders and Families of Hexapoda, a synopsis

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Orders and Families of Hexapoda, a synopsis.

C. Riley Nelson, Department of Biology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602 USA. Version: 06order_family_ent_synop_2011 3.doc
compiled by Riley Nelson, Wendy Hodges, Robert Ourso, Karin Gastreich, and with numerous past contributors, mostly at the University of Texas
Page and figure numbers refer to:

Triplehorn, C. A. and N. F. Johnson. 2004. Borror and DeLong’s introduction to the study of insects, Seventh Edition. Thomson Brooks/Cole. Belmont, California. 864 pp.

Phylum Arthropoda

subphylum Atelocerata

Class Hexapoda (Insecta)

subclass Entognatha

About the subclass Entognatha: Many entomologists classify Entognatha as the sister taxon to Insecta. Members of Entognatha (from ento: inside and gnatha: jaws) (Protura, Collembola, and Diplura) are considered primitively wingless and are grouped together in this subclass because the mouth parts are more or less withdrawn into the head. Our text (Triplehorn and Johnson 2004) recognizes these three Orders as having entognathous mouthparts but does not accord them subordinal status. Using the cladogram of Wheeler et al. 2001 recognizing the grouping Entognatha would be paraphyletic and thus inappropriate in a strict phylogenetic sense. Others differ with the opinion of monophyly of the “Entognatha”. Be aware of these differences of opinion.
Order: Protura page 169.

Diagnosing Features:

0.6-1.5 mm long, whitish


no antennae

Habitat: moist soil/humus, leaf mold, under bark, decomposing organic matter

Food habits: decomposers

Metamorphosis: anamorphosis

Preservation: alcohol/slide
Order: Collembola (springtails) page 170.

Diagnosing Features:

0.25-6 mm long


0 to 8 ommatidia


Habitat: soil or leaf litter, under bark, decaying logs, in fungi, ant nests, termite nest

Food habits: decomposers

Metamorphosis: ametabolous

Preservation: alcohol/slide

Notes: The furcula is a forked structure on the ventral side of the fourth abdominal segment which folds into the tenaculum on the ventral side of the third abdominal segment. The collophore is an appendage for water uptake.
Order: Diplura page 174.

Diagnosing Features:

<7 mm, pale colored

two caudal filaments

eyeless/no ocelli

1-segmented tarsi

lacks scales

Habitat: damp places,soil, under bark, stones or logs, rotting wood , caves

Food habits: decomposers

Metamorphosis: ametabolous

Preservation: alcohol

Notes: In one family, the Japygidae, the cerci are formed into pincers.

Family Campodeidae

Morphology: elongate, eyeless, with long cerci

Phylum Arthropoda

subphylum Atelocerata

Class Hexapoda

subclass Insecta

Our text, Triplehorn and Johnson 2004, recognizes the grouping “Insecta” but gives it no formal, hierarchical rank. We will use the rank Insecta ambiguously for all six-legged, three tagma bearing arthropods most of the time. Occasionally we may limit “Insecta” to the non-entognathous orders. If we do so, we will clarify this during discussion.
Order: Microcoryphia (bristletails or jumping bristletails) page 177.

Diagnosing Features:

up to 15 mm long

cylindrical body

compound eyes large and contiguous


body with scales

3-segmented tarsi

middle and hind coxae usually bear styli

3 caudal filaments which are more or less parallel

maxillary palps large and prominent

Habitat: under leaves in grassy/wooded areas, on cliff sides, rocky areas, under bark, stones, dead wood

Food habits: decomposers

Metamorphosis: ametabolous

Preservation: alcohol

Also known as Archaeognatha

Notes: Most are nocturnal and eyes glow at night when viewed with a flashlight. These animals resemble Thysanura quite closely. They have the plesiomorphic condition, however, of monocondylic mandibles.
Order: Thysanura (silverfish) pages 179.

Diagnosing Features:

elongate and flattened

3 caudal filaments, often with cerci projecting at near right angles from the median

caudal filament

body with scales

usually with compound eyes that are small and widely separated

ocelli may be present

3-5-segmented tarsi

Habitat: homes, soil, books, bookshelves, ant nests, caves

Food habits: generally decomposers; can be household pests

Metamorphosis: ametabolous

Preservation: alcohol

Notes: Their mandibles are dicondylic, a feature they share with all the orders of insects which follow. One family, the Nicoletiidae, is found locally in older nests of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta.

Also known as Zygentoma

Order: Ephemeroptera (mayflies) page 181.

Diagnosing Features:

small to medium-sized, elongate


2 or 3 long caudal filaments

membranous wings with numerous cross veins

forewings large and triangular

hind wings rounded, small or absent

antennae short, small, and setaceous

Habitat: rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds

Food habits: generally decomposers

Metamorphosis: hemimetabolous

Preservation: alcohol

Notes: Mayfly wings are held together above the body when at rest. Immature stages aquatic. This order is unique in having a winged subimago stage. The subimago molts to become an adult. Both stages have wings. Subimagoes may be distinguished from imagoes (adults) by the milky color of the wings and their hairier bodies and wings. Mayflies are effective bioindicators of aquatic habitat quality.

Family Baetidae

Morphology, larvae--small mayflies which are fusiform in general morphology and generalized mouthparts for grazing and collecting.

Ecology, larvae--The larvae live in diverse habitats from well-oxygenated streams (most genera) to rather stagnant lentic situations (Callibaetis). They are good swimmers . In central and west Texas, the genus Baetodes is a dorsoventrally flattened species which clings to large cobble or bedrock and grazes in the strong current. These are often the most abundant mayflies in a stream.

Family Caenidae

Morphology, larvae--small to medium mayflies which are stocky in general morphology. Their most striking morphological feature is the square operculate first pair of gills (on the dorsum of the second segment of abdomen). These gills cover the remaining gills and meet for most of their length on the midline. These nymphs are quite similar to Leptohyphidae in general appearance. In the Leptohyphidae, however, the operculate gills are triangular with the apices diverging distally.

Ecology, larvae--The larvae can live in rather stagnant lentic habitats.

Family Ephemerellidae

Morphology, larvae--Squat, small to medium mayflies, often with extraordinary patterns of spines on the body, especially the abdomen. These abdominal spines are in addition to the platelike dorsal gills of the abdomen.

Ecology, larvae--The larvae live in various lotic habitats but are more common in well-oxygenated streams of high gradient. They are slow moving clingers and sprawlers which exploit a wide range of function feeding groups.

Family Ephemeridae

Morphology, larvae--large,burrowing mayflies with prominent mandibular tusks which curve upward in lateral view. As in other burrowing mayflies the front legs are heavy and used for digging. They are generally light colored with feathery gills on abdomen fringed with long hairs. The common local species in central Texas, Hexagenia limbata has males which have extremely long front legs and wings which are mottled brown. The females are heavier bodied and lemon yellow.

Ecology, larvae--The larvae live in silty rivers, ponds, and lakes where they burrow into the flocculent substrate. They often have huge mass emergences.

Family Heptageniidae

Morphology, larvae--medium mayflies which are dorsoventrally flattened in general morphology and have laterally projecting flattened legs which hydrodynamically help them maintain their position in rather swift current. Many genera have flattened heads with an expansive clypeolabral complex.

Ecology, larvae--The larvae live can live in a wide variety of lotic habitats and can regularly be found in more lentic habitats as well.

Family Isonychiidae

Morphology, larvae--rather large mayflies which are fusiform, excellent swimmers. The common genus Isonychia has the general appearance of a large baetid but has two rows of long filtering hairs on the foretibiae and forefemora. It also has two part gills with the fibrillar portion shorter than the plate portion.

Ecology, larvae--The larvae live can live in a wide variety of lotic habitats. They face upstream with their forelegs spread to capture suspended detritus in long leg hairs.

Family Leptohyphidae, formerly known as Tricorythidae

Morphology, larvae--small to medium mayflies which are stocky in general morphology. Their most striking morphological feature is the triangular operculate first pair of gills (on the dorsum of the second segment of abdomen). The opercula meet at their bases, sometimes overlapping, but the apices diverge. These opercula cover the remaining gills. These nymphs are quite similar to Caenidae in general appearance. In the Caenidae, however, the operculate gills are square with the medial margins of the gills touching.

Ecology, larvae-The larvae live can live in a wide variety of lotic habitats and can regularly be found in more lentic habitats as well.

Family Leptophlebiidae

Morphology, larvae--small to medium mayflies which are often dorsoventrally flattened to some extent. Their gills are often forked with fringe on each fork. Some genera have flattened heads with a rather expansive clypeolabral complex. This family might be confused with heptageniidae, but, in general, are not nearly as flattened.

Ecology, larvae--The larvae live in well-oxygenated lotic habitats.
Order: Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) page 193.

Diagnosing Features:

wings are elongate, many-veined and membranous

large and many-faceted compound eyes

setaceous antennae

secondary genitalia on abdominal sternite 2

small prothorax

Mesothorax and metathorax large and tilted

long and slender abdomen

chewing mouthparts

Habitat: near water

Metamorphosis: hemimetabolous

Preservation: adults preferably stored in glassine envelopes, they may be pinned and spread

Notes: Wings are held out from body when at rest due to the lack of appropriate muscles to fold them against the dorsum. Odonata use direct flight mechanisms rather than indirect. Immatures are aquatic and called nymphs or naiads.
Suborder: Anisoptera (dragonflies) page 202.

hind wings are broader at base than the fore wings

nymphs have internal gills in the form of ridges in the rectum

nymph draws water into the rectum through the anus and expels it to breathe. They can also use this as a form of jet propulsion if the insect needs to make a quick escape

adult wings are held out perpendicular to body midline and cannot be flexed or folded to make them more compact

Family Aeshnidae (darners)

Morphology larvae-elongate, often very large with setaceous antennae. The most commonly encountered forms (Anax and Aeshna) are smooth in general appearance with slightly flattened heads and laterally projecting eyes.

Morphology adults-large, with compound eyes largely contiguous. Many species are blue.

Ecology larvae--lentic climbers and sprawlers in most cases.

Family Gomphidae (clubtails)

Morphology, larvae--medium to large dragonflies which have hornlike antennae in contrast to the setaceous antennae of other Anisoptera.

Morphology, adults--The eyes of the adult are separated and the end of the abdomen is very often clavate, hence the common name clubtails.

Ecology larvae--lotic sprawlers and burrowers. They are often covered with debris which camouflages them in and near the substrate.

Family Libellulidae (skimmers)

Morphology, larvae--small to large squat dragonflies which have setaceous antennae and eyes which project dorsally from the head.

Morphology, adults--anal loop of hind wing forms a boot. The eyes of the adult are contiguous. Many have patterns of color in the wings. The body colors are variable between species, ranging from black to blue to bright red.

Ecology, larvae--Most larvae live in lentic pools, usually devoid of fish.

Suborder: Zygoptera (damselflies) page 205.

front and hind wings have the same basic shape

nymphs have external gills in the form of 3 leaf-like structures at the caudal end of the abdomen

adults are usually smaller and more delicate than dragonfly adults

wings are usually attached to the body in a petiolate manner

can hold wings flexed over body in a somewhat compact fashion

Family Calopterygidae (broad winged damselflies)

Morphology, larvae--rather large damselflies which have stout hornlike antennae, a deep cleft in the mask,and three cornered anal gills (in crosssection).

Morphology, adults---wings not on long petiolate stalks; many crossveins in the wings. The adults are strikingly colored with either metallic green bodies and black (or partially black) wings (Calopteryx) or duller green bodies and a basal spot in the wings which ranges from dull orange (females of Hetaerina) to black or bright red (males of Hetaerina).

Ecology, larvae--Most larvae live in streams which are not necessarily high gradient.

Family Coenagrionidae (narrow winged damselflies)

Morphology, larvae--medium damselflies with setaceous antennae, no cleft in the mask, and usually with flattened anal gills (in crosssection). Prementum of mask not elongate or petiolate, reaching back only to between first pair of legs.

Morphology, adults----M3 arising near nodus. In life, wings flexed over abdomen at rest. Many with brightly blue, green, and red colored males; females more subdued browns and grays.

Ecology, larvae-Larvae live in both lotic and lentic habitats.

Family Lestidae

Morphology, larvae--medium damselflies with setaceous antennae, no cleft in the mask, and usually with flattened anal gills (in crosssection). Prementum of mask elongate and petiolate, reaching back past the first pair of legs, often past the third pair.

Morphology, adults----M3 arising near arculus. In life, wings outstretched at rest. Adult coloration more subdued than in other two families, usually green with a dull luster.

Ecology, larvae-Larvae live in lentic habitats, usually devoid of fish.

Order: Orthoptera (grasshoppers, katydids and crickets) page 209.

Diagnosing Features:

3-4-segmented tarsi

biting/chewing mouth parts

winged or wingless

forewings many-veined and thickened (tegmina)

hind wings broader and membranous

body elongate

cerci well-developed

antennae long, many-segmented, and filiform

tympana (sound detection organs)

Habitat: trees, shrubs, grasses

Food habits: most defoliators, some predators and decomposers

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: pinned near posterior margin of pronotum; some in alcohol

Notes: The hind wings fold under the tegmina.

Family Acrididae (short-horned grasshoppers) page 215. Antennae are shorter

than the body, auditory organs (tympana) are on sides of first abdominal segment, 3-segmented tarsi short ovipositor.

Family Tettigoniidae (long-horned grasshoppers or katydids) pages 219. Long,

hair-like antennae, wings held tent-like, tympana on base of front tibia, tarsi are 4-segmented, laterally flattened blade-like ovipositor.

Family Gryllidae (crickets) page 223. Long, hairlike antennae, wings held

flattened on dorsum of abdomen, tympana on base of front tibia, tarsi are 3-

segmented, needle like ovipositor, forewings bend down sharply on sides of body

Family Rhaphidophoridae (cave & camel crickets) page 219. Wingless, often

very humpbacked, lack tympana. Notes: They can often be collected by setting

out a trail of oatmeal at night and checking the trail periodically. The adults of this family are preferentially stored in alcohol.

Family Stenopelmatidae (Jerusalem, sand, or stone crickets) page 219.

Wingless, hind legs for digging, not jumping, this is not typical for Orthoptera,

beautifully colored brown head and banded abdomen. Good pets.
Order: Phasmatodea (walking sticks or leaf insects) page 227.

Diagnosing Features:

tarsi are usually 5-segmented sometimes 3

elongate and stick like body

wings are usually reduced or absent in North American forms

Habitat: trees or shrubs

Food habits: defoliators

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: pinned; move appendages close to the body when preparing for storage

Notes: Some tropical forms are flattened and expanded laterally with well-developed hind wings to look like leaves. Walking sticks can emit a foul-smelling substance from glands as a means of defense.

Order: Grylloblattaria (rock crawlers) page 203

Diagnosing Features:

15-30 mm, pale

slender, elongate


eyes small or absent, no ocelli

long and filiform antennae

long cerci

sword-shaped ovipositor in female

Habitat: glaciers and cold caves & fissures

Food habits: predators and scavengers on ice fields and below ground

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: alcohol

Notes: This order was discovered in 1914.
Order: Mantophasmatodea (gladiators, but common name not widely used) page 232.

Diagnosing Features:

small (20-30 mm long), at least superficially resembling immature mantids, but

lacking raptorial forelegs

extended pronotum which is loosely attached to the pterothorax

head is freely movable, they can look over their “shoulders”

Habitat: trees and shrubs

Food habits: predators

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: pinned or alcohol

Notes: The order was first recognized in 2001.

Order: Dermaptera (earwigs) page 234.

Diagnosing Features:

elongate, slender, somewhat flattened body

forceps like cerci

wings shorter than body, don’t project much over the abdomen

filiform antennae

3-segmented tarsi

chewing mouth parts

Habitat: under bark or other debris, decaying plant matter

Food habits: decomposers, some defoliators and predators

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: pinned through wing or mesothorax

Notes: Some dermapterans emit a foul-smelling substance as defense.

Family Forficulidae, the most common species, Forficula auricularia, is chestnut

brown with golden front wings. The cerci are sexually dimorphic, heavy and

curved in males, more delicate and straight in females.
Order: Plecoptera (stoneflies) page 239.

Diagnosing Features:

hind wing usually has large anal lobe

soft-bodied and flattened

wings (when present) folded flat over abdomen, largest species with

reticulate (net-like) venation.

fore wings elongated and narrow

long antennae

usually 3-segmented tarsi

chewing mouth parts

Habitat: near streams or rocky lake shores, nymphs are aquatic

Food habits: some decomposers, others predators

Metamorphosis: hemimetabolous

Preservation: alcohol

Notes: Stoneflies are indicators of the quality of aquatic habitats.

Family Nemouridae (spring stoneflies) page 244, immatures are small (about 1 cm) short and stout with diverging wing pads; adults have a prominent x in the middle of the front wings.

Family Pteronarcyidae (giant stoneflies) page 245, large (up to 10 cm), nymphs: gills on the first few segments of the abdomen; adults, wings with many, reticulate crossveins.

Family Perlidae (common stoneflies) page 245, medium sized and colorful

(3 cm or so, some larger), nymphs with tufts of gills near the base of each leg.

Family Perlodidae page 245 medium sized and colorful (3 cm or so); nymphs

with a single short gill near the base of each leg, or without gills.

Family Chloroperlidae, small (up to 3 cm or so), with rather short cerci which

are parallel.

Order: Embiidina (web spinners) page 247.

Diagnosing Features:

fore leg with tarsi enlarged

less than 10 mm long

antennae filiform or moniliform

chewing mouth parts

head prognathous

legs are short and stout

tarsi 3-segmented

metathoracic femora enlarged

Habitat: silken galleries in leaf litter, under stones, in soil cracks and bark crevices

Food habits: decomposers

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: alcohol

Notes: The basal segment of the fore tarsus is enlarged and contains silk glands. Embioptera live in social groups in their silken galleries. They can run equally well forward and backward, an uncommon feature in insects
Order: Zoraptera (zorapterans or angel insects) page 250.

Diagnosing Features:

3 mm long or less

wings usually absent but occasionally present

winged forms are dark colored, wingless forms light

Habitat: under slabs of wood, bark and rotting logs, sometimes found in berlese samples

Food habits: decomposers

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: alcohol
Order: Isoptera (termites) page 252.

Diagnosing Features:

usually white, always soft-bodied

abdomen broadly joined to thorax

most wingless

if winged, wings are membranous-forewings and hind wings equal in size

moniliform or filiform antennae

Habitat: under rocks in soil, in decaying wood

Food habits: decomposers; cellulose specialists

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: alcohol

Notes: This social insect contains protozoa which digest the cellulose that termites ingest. This endosymbiotic relationship is an obligate mutualism where both parties need each other. Isopteran caste structure consists of soldiers, workers, and reproductives.

Family Rhinotermitidae, soldiers have large heads and long sharp mandibles.
Order: Mantodea (Praying mantids) page 260.

Diagnosing Features:

large (50 mm long or longer in this area), elongate

raptorial forelegs

extended pronotum which is loosely attached to the pterothorax

head is freely movable, they can look over their “shoulders”

Habitat: trees and shrubs

Food habits: predators

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: pinned through the base of the wing

Family Mantidae

Notes: Some species are very cryptic, resembling leaves, twigs, or even flowers. Females often eat males during or after mating.

Order: Blattodea (cockroaches) page 263

Diagnosing Features:

oval, dorsoventrally flattened body

cursorial legs

5-segmented tarsi

head concealed dorsally by pronotum

Habitat: house, apartment, place of work or local university, wooded areas and under tree bark

Food habits: decomposers; several species are household pests

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: pinned through the middle of the forewing

Family Blattidae page 265, adults are generally large and broad.

Family Blattelidae page 266, adults smaller with elongate bodies and wings.
Order Hemiptera (true bugs, cicadas, hoppers, psyllids, whiteflies, aphids, and scale

insects. Page 268.

Diagnosing Features:

piercing-sucking mouthparts, typically with four stylets.

Habitat: plants, water, some predacious, widely distributed

Food habits: diverse, all suck fluids

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: if large enough, pinned in scutellum; many are small and should be


Notes: this order was formerly recognized as two different, but related Orders called Hemiptera and Homoptera, with a major difference between the two being that “Hemiptera” held their wings flat over the abdomen and “Homoptera” held their wings tent’-like over the abdomen. Phylogenetically intermediate forms have necessitated the lumping of these two groups into a monophyletic Hemiptera, with the formerly recognized “order Hemiptera” now called Suborder Heteroptera and the former “order Homoptera” called Suborders Auchenorrhyncha and Sternorrhycha. There are still problems with rank in this phylogenetic system, but we will follow the book’s system.
Suborder: Heteroptera (true bugs or half-wings) page 288.

Diagnosing Features:

forewings-hemelytra, usually basally leathery and distally membranous.

hind wings membranous

piercing-sucking mouthparts

antennae fairly long (4-5 segments)

well-developed compound eyes in most cases

0-2 ocelli

wings held flat on body with tips crossing apically

Habitat: plants, water, some predacious, widely distributed

Food habits: diverse, all suck fluids

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: pinned in scutellum; many are small and should be pointed

Notes: Many hemipterans have lateral thoracic scent glands which give off a foul odor.

Family Corixidae (water boatmen) page 290. Hind legs are oar-like; natatorial,

swim dorsal side up, elongate, oval body, somewhat flattened, usually gray

mottled, front tarsi forming a one segmented scoop, beaks are broad, conical and

one segmented

Family Notonectidae (backswimmers) page 291. Hind legs are oar-like thus

natatorial, swim ventral side up, body more or less cylindrical, often with some

ivory white color on body, some have hemoglobin, hind tarsi without claws

Family Naucoridae (creeping water bugs) page 291. Aquatic, oval from above

and dorsoventrally flattened, raptorial forelegs with enlarged femora, no veins in


Family Gerridae (water striders) page 293. Elongate middle and hind legs with

hind femur longer than abdomen, short fore legs, all tarsi two segmented

Family Veliidae (broad shouldered water striders) page 293. Elongate middle

and hind legs but with hind femora shorter than abdomen, short fore legs, all tarsi

two segmented

Family Belostomatidae (giant water bugs) page 289. The largest bugs in the

order, elongate-oval and somewhat flattened body, raptorial forelegs

Family Gelastocoridae (Toad bugs) page 290, bumpy hoppers living on

margins of desert streams.

Family Miridae (plant or leaf bugs) page 294, also see Fig. 22-1 and 22-4. cuneus present in hemelytra, only one or two closed cells on the wing membrane

antennae and beak are four segmented, lack ocelli, most are plant feeders, but a

few are predaceous, soft-bodied, most 4-10 mm, often brightly colored

Family Cimicidae, (bedbugs) page 296, wingless blood feeder often in bird and

mammal nests. One species a particular problem in human bedding.

Family Reduviidae (assassin bugs) page 296. Head elongate with constriction

behind the eyes yielding a neck-like appearance, beak is short and three-

segmented and the tip fits into a stridulatory groove in the prosternum, abdomen

often widened in middle, exposing lateral abdominal margins beyond wings

Family Lygaeidae (seed bugs) page 299, also see Fig. 22-4. Four or five simple

veins in the membrane of the wing, large variation in size, shape and color,

sometimes with front femora enlarged, appearing raptorial, many are

conspicuously marked with spots or bands of red, white or black, four segmented

antennae, four segmented beak, ocelli present

Family Coreidae (leaf-footed bugs) page 301. Most species have flattened

flange on hind tibia giving a leaf-like appearance, medium to large-sized insects,

well-developed scent glands laterally between the middle and hind coxae

hind femora often enlarged and spiny on the males for defense of territory

Family Rhopalidae (scentless plant bugs) page 301. Similar to leaf-footed bugs,

but lacking flattened hind tibia and scent glands. Small to medium-sized insects

Notes: The very common box elder bug, Boisea trivittata is in this family.

Family Pentatomidae (stink bugs) pages 307-309. Round or ovoid shape (body

looks like a shield) in dorsal view, 5 segmented antennae, many brightly colored

or conspicuously marked forms
Suborder: Auchenorrhyncha (cicadas and hoppers) page 305.

Diagnosing Features:

Active insects, commonly flying and jumping.

sucking mouthparts arising from posterior of head

(appear to arise between front coxae)

forewings have uniform texture, either membranous or thickened and leathery

hind wings membranous

wings held tent-like over body

setaceous antennae

Habitat: widely distributed, vegetation

Food habits: plant suckers

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous, some with pupa-like stage

Preservation: pinned or pointed.

Notes: All Auchenorrhyncha are plant feeders, with the Sternorrhyncha, the only two completely phytophagous insect suborders.

Family Cicadidae (cicadas) page 305. Large, membranous wings. Notes: Many

spend several years (up to 17 in the famous species of eastern North America)

underground as nymphs feeding on root fluids.

Family Cicadellidae (leafhoppers) page 310. Uniform row of many spines on

hind tibia and antenna anterior to eye

Superfamily Fulgoroidea (planthoppers) page 315. Antenna below eye; may

have uniform row of many spines on hind tibia. Notes: There are several families

that are relatively easy to distinguish.

Family Cercopidae (spittlebugs or froghoppers) page 309. Nymphs in a froth of

spittle on plants, crown of short spines at apex of hind tibia in addition to one or

two long spines

Family Membracidae (treehoppers) page 306. Prominent pronotum covering the

wings and abdomen in adults.

Suborder Sternorrhyncha (psyllids, whiteflies, aphids, and scale insects)

Diagnosing Features:

Usually sedentary insects, not commonly flying and jumping.

sucking mouthparts arising from posterior of head

(appear to arise between front coxae)

forewings have uniform texture, either membranous or thickened and leathery

hind wings membranous

wings held tent-like over body

setaceous or filiform antennae

Habitat: widely distributed, vegetation

Food habits: plant suckers

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous, some with pupa-like stage

Preservation: alcohol/slides.

Notes: All Auchenorrhyncha are plant feeders, with the Sternorrhyncha, the only two completely phytophagous insect suborders.

Family Aphididae (aphids or plant lice) pages 319. Cornicles present on dorsum

of abdomen

Superfamily Coccoidea (scale insects and mealybugs) page 324. Slow-moving

or sessile, generally wingless but the rarely encountered males have only two

Order: Thysanoptera (thrips) page 333.

Diagnosing Features:

0.5-5.0 mm, slender body

sucking mouthparts

if present, wings are like sclerotized rods with fringe of hairs, few or no veins

short antennae

1-2-segmented tarsi with 1 or 2 claws

Habitat: composite flowers, foliage,debris

Food habits: plant raspers, some predators

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous but with pupa-like stage

Preservation: alcohol/slides
Order: Psocoptera (book lice) page 341.

Diagnosing Features:

6 mm long or less


swollen clypeus

winged or wingless

forewings held tent-like over body

hind wings greatly reduced or vestigial

long antenna

2 or 3-segmented tarsi

no cerci

Habitat: in bark or foliage of trees or shrubs, in dead leaves, or in old books or papers

Food habits: decomposers

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: alcohol/slides
Order: Phthiraptera (lice) page 356

Diagnosing Features:


eyes reduced or absent

ocelli absent

antennae 3-5-segmented

Habitat: hairs or feathers of bird or mammal hosts, near skin

Food habits: parasites

Metamorphosis: paurometabolous

Preservation: alcohol/slides

Notes: Lice are ectoparasites on birds and mammals. Some are vectors of serious diseases.

Suborder Anoplura, flattened body, small heads, sucking mouthparts, generally on


Suborder Mallophaga (paraphyletic grouping of Rhynchophthirina, Amblycera, and Ischnocera). Flattened body, egg shaped head, chewing mouthparts, generally on birds.
Order: Coleoptera (beetles) page 365.

Diagnosing Features:

elytra, which meet at midline

highly diverse sizes from less than 1 mm to 125 mm

chewing mouthparts

nearly all lack ocelli

variety of antennal types

Habitat: ubiquitous

Metamorphosis: holometabolous

Preservation: pinned through right elytron

Notes: Absolutely the most species rich group in the animal kingdom.
Suborder Adephaga page 401. First abdominal sternum divided by hind coxae,

large hind trochanters, prothorax with notopleural sutures, nearly always with filiform

antennae, 555 tarsal formula

Family Carabidae (ground beetles) page 401. Terrestrial, most are predators,

cursorial legs, head narrower than pronotum, body usually elongate

Family Dytiscidae (predaceous diving beetles) page 405. Aquatic, all predators, hind legs like oars, short maxillary palps, body more ovate than elongate
Suborder Polyphaga page 406. Hind coxae do not divide abdominal sternite,

various antennae, tarsal formulae, normally without notopleural sutures

Family Staphylinidae (rove beetles) pages 409. Truncate elytra, usually with

functional hind wings beneath elytra, 6-7 visible abdominal sterna most are decomposers, some predators

Family Hydrophilidae (water scavenger beetles) page 406. Aquatic, short clubbed antennae, long maxillary palps, metasternum often with elongate metasternal keel, carry a plastron for respiration underwater decomposers, scavengers.

Family Scarabaeidae (scarab and dung beetles) page 412. Heavy bodied,

oval-convex, elongate beetles, front tarsi somewhat dilated, lamellate antennae,

diverse food habits, often root and dung feeders as larvae

Family Buprestidae (wood boring beetles) page 417. Metallic, at least on

venter; hard-bodied, bullet-shaped in dorsal view, head is hemispherical, wood


Family Elateridae (click beetles) page 422. Click mechanism (flexible at

prothorax with prosternal spine fitting into mesosternal groove), posterior margins

of prothorax with points or spines, antennae usually serrate, body parallel sided,

and rounded at each end, decomposers or root feeders

Family Lampyridae (fireflies) page 423. Soft elytra, pronotum obscures head

from view from above, pronotum often with clear windows, not all produce light,


Family Melyridae (soft winged flower beetles) page 429, many with strange protruberances at base of antennae, colorful.

Family Dermestidae (skin beetles) page 424. Usually small, oval to convex, short clubbed antennae, usually hairy or scaly, especially on venter, median ocellus present, a rare condition in beetles

Family Coccinellidae (ladybird beetle) page 433. Body hemispherical, short,

clavate antennae, 333 tarsal formula, head concealed by pronotum predators

Family Tenebrionidae (darkling beetles) page 436. Usually hard-bodied, eyes

notched, with antennae arising from a cleft, 554 tarsal formula, decomposers

Family Meloidae (blister beetles) page 438. Loose connection between head and prothorax, tips of elytra rounded and allow abdomen to be seen, parasites of other insects; pollen feeders

Family Cerambycidae (long-horned beetles) page 441. Antennae greater than

one-half the length of body, often very long, tarsal formula appears to be 444 with

third segment bilobed and concealing fourth in notch, body usually elongate, cylindrical, wood miners

Family Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles) page 445. Antennae shorter than in cerambycids, tarsal formula appears to be 444 with third segment bilobed and concealing fourth in notch, body often hemispherical, defoliators or leaf miners

Family Curculionidae (snout beetles or weevils) page 453. Clubbed geniculate antennae, often with long snouts, diverse feeding strategies, usually on plants

Subfamily Scolytinae (bark beetles) page 464. Small and cylindrical, posterior

apex of body often obliquely truncate in lateral view, sometimes with tubercles

Order: Neuroptera (alderflies, dobsonflies, snakeflies, lacewings, ant lions, owlflies)

page 469.

Diagnosing Features:

multi-veined, especially in costal area


4 membranous reticulated wings

wings held tent-like over body but somewhat flattened in Corydalidae

mandibulate mouthparts

long antennae, filiform, pectinate, clubbed

5-segmented tarsi

no cerci

Habitat: some larvae are aquatic others are terrestrial, some adults are near water

Food habits: predators

Metamorphosis: holometabolous

Preservation: pinned through the mesothorax

Notes: The neuropterans share most of the characteristics given above and are sometimes divided among three different orders: Megaloptera, Rhaphidioptera, and Neuroptera, as done below.
Family Chrysopidae (green lacewings) pages 477. Usually green or yellow,

sometimes with a few red body markings, forewing with a single radial sector, costal field with unforked minor veins

Family Hemerobiidae (brown lacewings) page 477. Usually brown, forewing

with several radial sectors, costal field often with forked minor veins

Family Myrmeleontidae (ant lions) page 478. Clubbed antennae, antennae as

long as head and thorax combined

Order Megaloptera

Family Corydalidae (dobsonflies and fishflies) page 475. Aquatic larvae, prominent ocelli, large body, some males with huge mandibles
Order Raphidioptera

Family Raphidiidae (snakeflies) page 476. Elongate prothorax, approximately

1.0-1.25 cm long, all legs similar, females with long slender ovipositor at apex of


Order: Hymenoptera ( sawflies, parasitic wasps, ants, wasps, and bees) page 481.

Diagnosing Features:

winged species have four membranous wings

hind wings are smaller than forewings

hamuli located on the anterior margin of the hind wings connect hind and forewings

tarsi usually 5-segmented

well-developed ovipositor

some species’ ovipositors are modified into a sting

antennae long, usually +10 segments

mandibulate mouthparts

Habitat: particularly near vegetation and flowers

Food habits: diverse

Metamorphosis: holometabolous

Preservation: pinned through right side of mesonotum

Suborder” Symphyta, paraphyletic assemblage. page 516.

abdomen broadly joined to thorax

trochanters 2 segmented

usually 3 closed cells at the base of hind wing

Family Tenthredinidae (sawflies) pages 517. Ovipositor saw-like, body

small (up to 20 mm), larvae can be defoliators, gall makers, or leaf miners

Suborder Apocrita pages 519.

basal segment of abdomen fused with thorax and separated from abdomen by


1 or 2 segmented trochanters

no more than 2 closed cells at the base of hind wing

Family Ichneumonidae page 523. All trochanters appear to be two segmented,

long ovipositors, two recurrent veins. Parasites of many arthropods

Family Braconidae page 522. All trochanters appear to be two segmented,

long ovipositors, only one recurrent vein (m-cu), second and third “abdominal” segments fused. Parasites of many arthropods

Superfamily Chalcidoidea page 526. Minute, elbowed antennae, reduced wing

venation. Parasites

Family Pompilidae (spider wasps) page 549. Collared pronotum, transverse

mesopleural suture. Prominent large ones with velvety metallic bodies and bright

orange wings. Predator/parasite of spiders

Family Sphecidae (digger wasps) page 539. Collared pronotum with lobes below tegula, vertical sulcus on mesopleuron, usually not very hairy

Family Vespidae (paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets) page 549. Pronotum forms a V, predators, often specific in prey types gathered for young

Family Mutillidae (velvet ants) page 548. Females wingless; males winged,

with felt line on abdomen, covered with dense hairs. Parasites, often of bees

Family Formicidae (ants) page 552. One to two nodes on petiole, antennae

Elbowed, diverse feeding strategies

Superfamily Apoidea” (bees) start page 540.

pronotum terminates laterally in rounded lobes (as in sphecids)

hairs of thorax plumose

scopae or corbiculae for carrying pollen

pollen and nectar gatherers

Note: The superfamily Apoidea in our text includes the family Sphecidae. We will treat three families of bees in this guide as separate from Sphecidae.

Family Apidae page 545. Honey bees and bumble bees (and many others),

broad corbicula on hind leg, pygidial plate absent

Family Halictidae sweat bees, page 543. Small to moderate size, often metallic,

strongly arched first free segment of medial vein

Family Megachilidae page 544. Females with hair patch on underside of

abdomen (scopa)

Order: Trichoptera (caddisflies) page 558.

Diagnosing Features:

small to medium-sized, most are dull-colored, slender body

four membranous wings which are very hairy and have scales

wings held tent-like over body

antennae long and slender, filiform

chewing mouthparts, well-developed palps but reduced mandibles in adults

larvae are aquatic

some build rock or stick cases

Habitat: near water

Food habits: decomposers and some predators

Metamorphosis: holometabolous

Preservation: alcohol, large adults pinned through mesonotum

Family Hydropsychidae (net-spinning caddisflies) page 566, no case, but

build funnel net underwater as larvae; c –shaped with many ventral gills; adults

have a prominently indented neck separating head from thorax.

Family Limnephilidae (northern caddisflies) page 567, large case builders,

using a variety of materials.

Order: Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) page 571.

Diagnosing Features:

scales on wings

adult mouthparts are sucking, larvae have chewing mouthparts

large compound eyes

Habitat: ubiquitous

Food habits: diverse; many are plant feeders

Metamorphosis: holometabolous

Preservation: pinned and spread

Notes: Lepidoptera can be split into 2 primary groups, the moths and butterflies. Moths are generally nocturnal and the fore and hind wings are hooked together by a frenulum or jugum. They have a wide variety of antennae. Butterflies are generally diurnal and have clavate antennae. Their hind wings overlap, but are not hooked together.

Family Papilionidae (swallowtails) page 620. Often have one or more tail-like

elongations on the hind wing

Family Pieridae (whites, sulphurs and orangetips) page 621. Medium-sized to

small, usually white or yellowish in color with black marginal wing markings, radius in the front wing is usually 3 or 4 branched, front legs well developed

Family Lycaenidae (coppers, hairstreaks, blues, harvesters, and metalmarks)

page 622. Small and delicate, brightly colored with slender body, antennae

usually ringed in white, line of white scales encircling the eyes, some with

delicate tails on hind margin of hind wing

Family Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies) page 623. Reduced forelegs

which lack claws, only the middle and hind legs are used in walking. Very

common family, several subfamilies

Subfamily Danainae (milkweed butterflies, monarchs) page 626. Large and

brightly colored butterflies, usually brownish with black and white markings, "brush footed" and don't use their forelegs for walking, radius in the forewing is 5-branched, forewing discal cell is closed by a well-developed branch, short third anal vein in the forewing

Family Hesperiidae (skippers) page 619. Usually small and stout-bodied, wing

veins arise from discal cell (none of the five R branches in forewing are stalked),

antennae are hooked and widely separated

Family Saturniidae (giant silkworm moth) page 631. North American species

may have a wingspread of about 150 mm, many are brightly or conspicuously

colored and have transparent eye spots in the wings, antennae are pectinate,

mouthparts are reduced and the adults do not feed.

Family Sphingidae (sphinx , hawk, or hummingbird moths) page 634. Medium-

sized to large, heavy-bodied, spindle-shaped and tapering at end, long narrow

forewings, antennae are slightly thickened in the middle or toward the tip, larvae

are called hornworms due to horn or spine-like process on dorsum of posterior


Family Arctiidae (tiger moths) page 640. Most are brightly spotted or banded,

small to medium-sized, often white or brownish, Sc and Rs in the hind wing are

usually fused to about the middle of the discal cell (Fig. 34-26), larvae called


Family Noctuidae page 636. Mostly heavy-bodied, forewings somewhat narrowed, hind wings broadened, labial palps are long. Diverse and abundant, can be confused with several other families.

Order: Siphonaptera (fleas) page 648.

Diagnosing Features:

laterally flattened

wingless, small, 0.5 - 2.0mm

numerous backward-projecting spines and bristles

long legs with enlarged coxae for jumping-saltatorial hind legs

short antennae in grooves on head

piercing, sucking mouthparts

Habitat: hosts, birds and mammals and their nests/homes

Food habits: parasites

Metamorphosis: holometabolous

Preservation: alcohol
Order: Mecoptera (scorpionflies and hangingflies) page 662.

Diagnosing Features:

9-22 mm, slender body

head often prolonged below eyes as a beak (rostrum)

most have 4 membranous wings similar in size and venation

Habitat: around vegetation, dense decaying matter

Food habits: decomposers, scavengers of dead insects

Metamorphosis: holometabolous

Preservation: pinned through right side of mesonotum

Family Panorpidae (scorpionflies) page 666. Genital segments of males curls

up over abdomen such that it resembles a scorpion, very elongate rostrum

Family Boreidae (winter or snow scorpionflies) page 667. Males with short

wings modified for grasping; females wingless.

Order: Strepsiptera (twisted-wing parasites) page 669.

Diagnosing Features:

small, 0.5 - 2.0mm

males with protruding raspberry-like eyes with few ommatidia

males free-living and winged

hind wings large and membranous, fan-like with reduced venation

forewings reduced to club-like structures like dipteran halteres

females are eyeless, wingless, and legless, in most cases

Habitat: in hosts (Hymenoptera , Homoptera, Orthoptera, Hemiptera, and Thysanura)

Food habits: parasites

Metamorphosis: holometabolous

Preservation: alcohol
Order: Diptera (flies) page 672.

Diagnosing Features:

one pair of wings


diverse mouthparts including: piercing, sucking, cutting, and lapping or sponging; but plesiomorphic biting and chewing type not represented

Habitat: ubiquitous

Food habits: diverse

Metamorphosis: holometabolous

Preservation: pinned or pointed

Notes: The halteres have been functionally modified as organs of equilibrium during flight.
Suborder Nematocera (long-horned flies) page 707.

approximately 6 antennal segments

usually delicate flies with long legs

Family Tipulidae (crane flies) page 707. V on mesonotum, many veins in wings,

legs break off easily. Decomposers and predators

Family Culicidae (mosquitoes) page 710. Long proboscis, scales on wing veins

and on mouthparts of males, aquatic as larvae, females often bloodsuckers

Family Chironomidae (aquatic midges) page 709. Scutellum with midline suture, front tarsi lengthened, long narrow wings, M unbranched, often plumose antennae, especially prominent in males. Most are decomposers

Family Simuliidae (black flies) page 714, aquatic larvae with prominent head

fans and a club like shape broaded at the tip of the abdomen, stocky, short

legged adults with females using piercing sucking mouthparts, often blood

Suborder Brachycera (short-horned flies) page 719.

three to six antennal segments

usually stout flies

Family Tabanidae (horse/deer flies) page 720. R4 and R5 divergent, enclose

wing tips-apical cell widely open forming a V, calypteres large, third antennal segment elongate, male eyes contiguous, female with blade like mouthparts.

Blood feeders

Family Bombyliidae (bee flies) page 724. Bee-like colors due to hairs or scales,

R2+3 and R4 sinuous, stylate antennae, many with long proboscis. Parasites of

many insect orders, especially Hymenoptera

Family Asilidae (robber flies) page 723. Sunken vertex, face bearded with a

moustache called the mystax, large and generally hairy, sclerotized proboscis, stylate antennae. Predators, mostly of flying insects.

Family Dolichopodidae (long-legged flies) page 726, most are metallic green or

blue, with heart shaped head, R5 and M1 often converge, usually stylate antennae.

Infraorder Muscomorpha (Circular-seamed flies) page 728. Aristate antennae,

Rs bifurcate

Family Syrphidae (hover flies) page 728. Spurious (fold or false) vein between

R5 and M1, bee and wasp mimics, R veins sinuate, bee-like colors often based in

Sclerites. Predators and decomposers.
Section Acalypterata page 734.

No transverse suture on mesonotum

No calypteres

No dorsal longitudinal suture on pedicel

Family Tephritidae (fruit flies) pages 737. Patterned wings, Sc bent abruptly

(90°), not quite reaching costa. Fruit eaters and decomposers

Family Drosophilidae (pomace flies, small fruit flies) page 741. Broken C at Sc

and h, sunken face, pectinate arista. Decomposers.

Family Sepsidae (black scavenger flies) page 739. Ant-like with apical spot in

wing, bristle near metathoracic spiracle. Decomposers, many around dung.

Family Chloropidae (grass flies) page 741. Shiny ocellar triangle and oddly

kinked CuA1. No CuP cell near base of wing. Decomposers, some plant feeders.

Family Ephydridae (shore flies) page 742. Prominent lower margin on face, two

breaks in the costa near base at Sc and h, no small cells near base of wing.

Aquatic flies of diverse habitats: oil to salt to marsh.
Section Calypterata page 729. Calypteres developed, longitudinal suture on

pedicel, mesonotum with transverse suture

Family Muscidae page 731. No hypopleural (meral) or pteropleural bristles,

Cu2+2A does not reach wing margin, if stripes on mesonotum, there are four not

three, compare carefully with Anthomyiidae. Decomposers

Family Anthomyiidae page 729. Cu2+2A long reaching wing margin, fine

subscutellar hairs in many genera, no hypopleural (meral) bristles.

Family Calliphoridae page 729. Often metallic, hypopleural bristles present,

arista plumose at tip, two notopleural bristles. Decomposers, mostly.

Family Sarcophagidae page 733. Usually three black mesonotal stripes, hypopleural bristles present, more than two notopleural bristles, Decomposers and parasites.

Family Tachinidae page 734. Subscutellum present and well-developed, arista

bare, hypopleural bristles present. Parasites of insects and other arthropods

minor rev. 29 August 2011, CRN.

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