Entomology List/Holometabolous and Endopterygota

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This page contains information on Ametabolous and Apterygote Orders. For information on how to use this list, please see the first section on the Entomology List page. For more general information about the event, see Entomology.

Contents

Holometabolous and Endopterygote Orders & Families

Megaloptera (dobsonflies)

  • Head: Mandibulate, strong mandibles, directed forward (some don’t feed); Antennae filiform, moniliform or pectinate; Compound eyes large, some have 3 ocelli; Head broad & flat;
  • Thorax: Wings- 4, relatively large, pigmented, held roof-like over body, Pleated region on hind wings that helps them fold over the abdomen, absence of terminal branching wing veins; Cannot fly well; Legs cursorial, unmodified
  • Life Cycle: Larvae aquatic, appear caterpillar like, have gills on side of abdomens; Males have tusk-like mandibles (serve no real purpose other than impressing female & holding her during mating); Female lays thousands of eggs in single mass, placing them on vegetation overhanging water, Undergo most rudimentary form of complete metamorphosis among insects, attract each other with pheromones; Short-lived;
  • Misc Anatomy: 140mm wingspan, 40-70mm long; Black, brown gray, yellowish orange-dark green; Long, soft, flexible bodies;
  • Human Impact: Harmless to humans;
  • Habitat: Live in freshwater; Adults rest on vegetation during day, are nocturnal;
  • Diet: Larvae predators; Many adults don’t feed (some nectar or fruit juices), larvae predators of other aquatic invertebrates;
  • Explanation of Name: “Mega”- large, “Ptera”- wing (large, clumsy wings);

Mandibulate, strong mandibles, directed forward (some don’t feed); Antennae filiform, moniliform or pectinate; Compound eyes large, some have 3 ocelli; Head broad & flat; Wings- 4, relatively large, pigmented, held roof-like over body, Pleated region on hind wings that helps them fold over the abdomen, absence of terminal branching wing veins; Cannot fly well; Legs cursorial, unmodified; Larvae aquatic, appear caterpillar like, have gills on side of abdomens; Males have tusk-like mandibles (serve no real purpose other than impressing female & holding her during mating); Female lays thousands of eggs in single mass, placing them on vegetation overhanging water, Undergo most rudimentary form of complete metamorphosis among insects, attract each other with pheromones; Short-lived; 140mm wingspan, 40-70mm long; Black, brown gray, yellowish orange-dark green; Long, soft, flexible bodies; Harmless to humans; Live in freshwater; Larvae predators; Many adults don’t feed (some nectar or fruit juices), larvae predators of other aquatic invertebrates; Adults rest on vegetation during day, are nocturnal; “Mega”- large, “Ptera”- wing (large, clumsy wings);

Neuroptera (lacewings, antlions)

  • Head: Mandibulate, strong mandible, prognathous head; Antennae long, many-segmented, threadlike, pectinate or clubbed, segments clubbed at the tip or thickened overall; Large lateral compound eyes, some have ocelli; Distinctive head with well-developed eyes, chewing mouth, distinctive antennae;
  • Thorax: Wings- 4 long & narrow, wing veins branched at the margin (separates it from megaloptera), FW & HW similar in size, narrowed at base, some have sense organs, fold rooflike over abdomen; Legs- 3 pairs thoracic, long & slender;
  • Abdomen: No cerci
  • Misc Anatomy: Most are delicately built, slender bodies; 10-40/80mm; White/gray, green, reddish-brown, black;
  • Human Impact: Not much impact, some pest control;
  • Habitat: Wide range of habitats including coastal regions, deserts, woodlands, forests;
  • Diet: Larvae predators, adults predatory or don’t feed, some only eat nectar/pollen
  • Explanation of Name: Means "net veined"

Mandibulate, strong mandible, prognathous head; Antennae long, many-segmented, threadlike, pectinate or clubbed, segments clubbed at the tip or thickened overall; Large lateral compound eyes, some have ocelli; Distinctive head with well-developed eyes, chewing mouth, distinctive antennae; Wings- 4 long & narrow, wing veins branched at the margin (separates it from megaloptera), FW & HW similar in size, narrowed at base, some have sense organs, fold rooflike over abdomen; Legs- 3 pairs thoracic, long & slender; Most delicately built, slender bodies; 10-40/80mm; White/gray, green, reddish-brown, black; No cerci; Not much impact, some pest control; Wide range of habitats including coastal regions, deserts, woodlands, forests; Larvae predators, adults predatory or don’t feed, some only nectar; (Adults that feed- pollen/nectar); Name- net-veined;

Chrysopidae (Green Lacewings)

  • Head: Long, thread-like antennae; Compound eyes usu golden;
  • Thorax: Wide costal field in wing venation, Wings usu translucent, have short hairs;
  • Life Cycle: Eggs stalked;
  • Misc Anatomy: 10-20mm; Bodies bright green to greenish-brown (eyes gold); Tympanum at base of wings, strong sense of hearing;
  • Human Impact: Pest control (aphids);
  • Habitat: In grass & weeds & on tree/shrub foliage;
  • Diet: Some predators, others herbivores; Some eat liquids (honeydew), others predators;
  • Explanation of Name: chrysos’- gold, ‘ops’- eye, face;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (528) 336

Wide costal field in wing venation, Wings usu translucent, have short hairs; Long, thread-like antennae; Compound eyes usu golden; 10-20mm; Bodies bright green to greenish-brown (eyes gold); Eggs stalked; Tympanum at base of wings, strong hearing; Pest control (aphids); In grass & weeds & on tree/shrub foliage; Some predators, others herbivores; Some eat liquids (honeydew), others predators; ;chrysos’- gold, ‘ops’- eye, face;

Myrmeleontidae (Antlions)

  • Head: Sickle-like jaws formed by maxillae & mandibles; Antennae length of head + thorax combined, clubbed, prominent;
  • Thorax: Poor fliers, wings transparent but mottled with brown/black, apical veins enclose regular oblong spaces; Legs modified for walking (ambulatory);
  • Misc Anatomy: 40-80mm (adults);
  • Habitat: Worldwide; Common in arid & sandy habitats;
  • Diet: Some adults eat pollen/nectar, others prey on small insects;
  • Explanation of Name: “antlion”- eat ants, larvae=doodlebug because of tracks in sand;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (530) 403

Sickle-like jaws formed by maxillae & mandibles; Antennae length of head + thorax combined, clubbed, prominent; Poor fliers, wings transparent but mottled with brown/black, apical veins enclose regular oblong spaces; Walking legs; 40-80mm (adults); Worldwide; Common in arid & sandy habitats; Some adults eat pollen/nectar, others prey on small insects; “antlion”- eat ants, larvae=doodlebug because of tracks in sand; *’Jaws’ formed by maxillae & mandibles; Head well-developed with ocelli, antennae; Thorax has 3 pairs of short walking legs; Have ocelli; 1-2cm; Robust, fusiform body; Prothorax forms ‘neck’; Lack anus; Pest control; Live by sand or loose soil; Voracious predators; Dig trap in sand/loose soil to catch prey; Eat other insects, mostly ants; ‘Doodlebugs’- tracks in the sand; Female clings to twig, male attaches to tail, hangs below her suspended by genitals, lasts 2 hours; Female taps surface of sand with abdomen, inserts ovipositor into sand & lays egg; Pupa stage in cocoon; Pupation lasts one month, 20 min- adults wing formed; (Most of life is spent in larval form);

Information about Immatures/Life Cycle of Myrmeleontidae

  • Head: Jaws formed by maxillae & mandibles; Head well-developed with ocelli, antennae;
  • Thorax: Thorax has 3 pairs of short walking legs; Prothorax forms ‘neck’;
  • Mating: Female clings to twig, male attaches to tail, hangs below her suspended by genitals, lasts 2 hours; Female taps surface of sand with abdomen, inserts ovipositor into sand & lays egg;
  • Pupal Stage: Spent in cocoon; Pupation lasts one month, 20 min- adults wing formed; (Most of life is spent in larval form);
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-2cm; Robust, fusiform body; Lack anus;
  • Human Impact: Good for pest control;
  • Habitat: Live by sand or loose soil; Dig trap in sand/loose soil to catch prey;
  • Diet: Eat other insects, mostly ants; Voracious predators;
  • Explanation of Name: ‘Doodlebugs’- tracks in the sand;

Table for Distinguishing Neuroptera Families

Neuroptera Quick-ID
Family Name Characteristics
Chrysopidae Wings lacy; Antennae Filiform; Green colored;
Myrmeleontidae Antennae clubbed; Wings similar in shape;

Coleoptera (beetles)

  • Head: Most have a mandibulate mouth, similar to grasshoppers, projecting forward; Antennae used primarily to smell, sometimes feel, most 11 seg, vary greatly in shape; Variety of compound eye forms, very conspicuous;
  • Thorax: Wings- 4, FW- elytra (covers for HW), HW large, membranous, folded beneath FW; Legs- most for walking, wide range of adaptations, 2-5 seg tarsi;
  • Life Cycle: Immature forms- Campodeiform -- Slender, active crawlers | Scarabaeiform -- Grub-like, fleshy, c-shaped body | Elateriform -- Wireworms; elongate, cylindrical, with a hard exoskeleton & tiny legs;
  • Misc Anatomy: 3-200mm; White-gray, red-orange, yellow, green, blue-purple, reddish-brown, black; Scutellum = behind pronotum & elytral structure, triangular or U-shaped, Humerus = shoulder like front angle of the elytra;
  • Human Impact: Some bad pests, others pest control (variable by family); Some transmit plant diseases;
  • Habitat: Worldwide, highly variable
  • Diet: Some herbivores/predators; Diet varies by family;
  • Explanation of Name: The name Coleoptera, derived from the Greek words "koleos" meaning sheath and "ptera" meaning wings, refers to the modified front wings which serve as protective covers for the membranous hind wings.
  • Misc: Largest order in the animal kingdom, 25% of all known animal life forms;

Most mandibulate, similar to grasshoppers, projecting forward; Antennae used primarily to smell, sometimes feel, most 11 seg, vary greatly in shape; Variety of compound eye forms, very conspicuous; Wings- 4, FW- elytra (covers for HW), HW large, membranous, folded beneath FW; Legs- most for walking, wide range of adaptations, 2-5 seg tarsi; Immature forms- Campodeiform -- Slender, active crawlers | Scarabaeiform -- Grub-like, fleshy, c-shaped body | Elateriform -- Wireworms; elongate, cylindrical, with a hard exoskeleton & tiny legs;3- 200mm; White-gray, red-orange, yellow, green, blue-purple, reddish-brown, black; Scutellum = behind pronotum & elytral structure, triangular or U-shaped, Humerus = shoulder like front angle of the elytra; Some bad pests, others pest control (variable by family); Some transmit plant diseases; Worldwide; Some herbivores/predators; Diet varies by family; Largest order in the animal kingdom, 25% of all known animal life forms; "koleos"- sheath, “ptera”- wings (elytra);

Cicindelidae (tiger beetles)

  • Head: Mandibles large & sickle-shaped; Antennae held out to avoid obstacles when running; Bulging eyes, go blind while running; Head wider than prothorax; Clypeus wider than distance between sockets of antennae;
  • Thorax: Elytra nearly straight-sided; Running legs, long & slender; can run at a speed of 9 km/h (5.6 mph), or about 53.87 body lengths per second; Pronotum narrower than elytra;
  • Life Cycle: Larvae live in cylindrical burrows & are large headed humpbacked grubs;
  • Misc Anatomy: 7-70mm; Brownish, black, or green, often brightly patterned/metallic;
  • Human Impact: Good indicator species, used in studies on biodiversity;
  • Habitat: Open habitats, stream edges, dirt roads, sand dunes, seashores;
  • Diet: Predators; Eat other arthropods;
  • Misc: Antipredator adaptations: color, evasive flight, rapid locomotion, body size; Bombyliid flies & Tiphiid wasps are parasites of tiger beetles;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (534) 195, 207, 238, 239

Mandibles large & sickle-shaped; Antennae held out to avoid obstacles when running; Bulging eyes, go blind while running; Head wider than prothorax; Elytra nearly straight-sided; Running legs, long & slender; can run at a speed of 9 km/h (5.6 mph), or about 53.87 body lengths per second; Pronotum narrower than elytra; Larvae live in cylindrical burrows & are large headed humpbacked grubs 7-70mm; Brownish, black, or green, often brightly patterned/metallic; Good indicator species, used in studies ;on biodiversity; Open habitats, stream edges, dirt roads, sand dunes, seashores; Predators; Eat other arthropods; Bombyliid flies & Tiphiid wasps are parasites of tiger beetles; Antipredator adaptations: color, evasive flight, rapid locomotion, body size; Clypeus wider than distance between sockets of antennae;

Carabidae (ground beetles)

  • Head: Filiform Antennae; Large, well-developed eyes;
  • Thorax: Elytra ridged, some large species fused (can’t fly if fused); Long spiny legs, Hind trochanters large/offset;
  • Life Cycle: Most mature in one year, live for 2-3 years;
  • Misc Anatomy: .7-66mm; Shiny black/metallic; Some can’t fly (fused elytra)
  • Human Impact: Most pest control, some nuisance pests;
  • Habitat: Under bark of trees, under logs, or among rocks or sand by the edge of ponds & rivers; Nocturnal, emerge from hiding places to search for prey;
  • Diet: Many night predators; Eat any other insects, some eat pollen, berries, & seeds;
  • Sociality: Solitary, only come together to mate;
  • Explanation of Name: Named after Pierre &ré Latreille; Some called “violin beetles” (odd shaped elytra);
  • Misc: Use tough shell for protection, some give off bad tasting chemicals, bombardier beetles can shoot boiling hot toxic chemicals from glands on abdomen;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (536) 166, 191, 196, 203, 206, 209

Elytra ridged, some large species fused (can’t fly if fused); Filiform Antennae; Large, well-developed eyes; Long spiny legs, Hind trochanters large/offset; Most mature in one year, live for 2-3;.7-66mm; Shiny black/metallic; Some can’t fly (fused elytra); Most pest control, some nuisance pests; Under bark of trees, under logs, or among rocks or sand by the edge of ponds & rivers; Many night predators; Eat any other insects, some eat pollen, berries, & seeds; Nocturnal, emerge from hiding places to search for prey; Solitary, only come together to mate; Named after Pierre &ré Latreille; Some called “violin beetles” (odd shaped elytra); Use tough shell for protection, some give off bad tasting chemicals, bombardier beetles can shoot boiling hot toxic chemicals from glands on abdomen;

Dytiscidae (predaceous diving beetles)

  • Head: Larvae have very strong mandible, adults have short sharp mandibles; Antennae filiform, long, thin;
  • Thorax: FW elytra; Middle legs much closer to FL than HL, HL fringed & flattened, long hairs on hind tibae for swimming, hind tarsi single straight claw; Excellent swimmers, move legs in unison;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females more selective in choosing mate than male, Males have variety of methods to mate, sometimes females resist mating by swimming swiftly away;
  • Misc Anatomy: ~1 inch; Dark brown, blackish or dark olive often with light markings; Body hard, smooth, oval-shaped, elongate, convex, streamlined, without ventral spine; scutellum clearly visible;
  • Human Impact: Many bred as food;
  • Habitat: Most found in southeast; Aquatic, prefer slow moving or stagnant water (ponds, lakes, dams);
  • Diet: Predators; Eat aquatic animals;
  • Explanation of Name: Larvae called water tigers, name means “able to dive”;
  • Misc: Emerge summer/autumn; Require atmospheric air, adults go to the surface to gather air which they store in a chamber underneath their elytra to enable them to increase the time that they can be submerged;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (540) 33-34 (larvae), 94, 95, 96

Larvae have very strong mandible, adults have short sharp mandibles; Antennae filiform, long, thin; FW elytra; Middle legs much closer to FL than HL, HL fringed & flattened, long hairs on hind tibae for swimming, hind tarsi single straight claw; Excellent swimmers, move legs in unison; Females more selective in choosing mate than male, Males have variety of methods to mate, sometimes females resist mating by swimming swiftly away;~1 inch; Dark brown, blackish or dark olive often with light markings; Body hard, smooth, oval-shaped, elongate, convex, streamlined, without ventral spine; scutellum clearly visible; Emerge summer/autumn; Many bred as food; Most found in southeast; Aquatic, prefer slow moving or stagnant water (ponds, lakes, dams); Predators; Eat aquatic animals; Larvae called water tigers, name means “able to dive”; Require atmospheric air, adults go to the surface to gather air which they store in a chamber underneath their elytra to enable them to increase the time that they can be submerged;

Gyrinidae (whirlgig beetles)

  • Head: Antennae short/plump, clubbed, placed about at water level, seg 1-9 have lateral hooks, used to Detect wavelets in the water surface film, aiding in avoiding obstacles & finding prey; Two pairs of compound eyes, half looks up & half down;
  • Thorax: ML & HL for swimming (natatory), very short, flattened & fringed with bristles, FL long & grasping, contain suckers to hold onto female while mating; Can fly well, even taking off from water if needed;
  • Abdomen: Have apical abdominal hooks;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Males front tarsi have suckers for grabbing female while mating;
  • Life Cycle: Usually lay eggs under water attached to plants, mating takes place at surface;
  • Misc Anatomy: 3.5-15mm; Cryptically colored, black; Elliptically shaped, elongate-oval, flattened;
  • Human Impact: Being researched for nanotechnology because of their motion;
  • Habitat: Swim on surface water if undisturbed, go underwater when threatened, swim rapidly in circles with alarmed; Occupy areas where water flows steadily & not too fast (minor rapids & narrows in leisurely streams);
  • Diet: Predators; Eat any insects trapped in water surface film;
  • Sociality: Swim in groups, very gregarious, position in group determined by sex, species, age, stress level, amount of hunger…, drafting- swimming behind other beetles to take advantage of forward moving drafts;
  • Explanation of Name: Common name- swim in circles when alarmed, some called “four eyed fish”;
  • Misc: Some give off a pineapple like odor when handled, integument is finely sculpted with little pits, waxy outer layer that makes them hard to catch;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (543) 91, 92

Antennae short/plump, clubbed, placed about at water level, seg 1-9 have lateral hooks, used to Detect wavelets in the water surface film, aiding in avoiding obstacles & finding prey; Two pairs of compound eyes, half looks up & half down; ML & HL for swimming (natatory), very short, flattened & fringed with bristles, FL long & grasping, contain suckers to hold onto female while mating; Have apical abdominal hooks; Can fly well, even taking off from water if needed; Males front tarsi have suckers for grabbing female while mating; Usually lay eggs under water attached to plants, mating takes place at surface; 3.5-15mm; Cryptically colored, black; Elliptically shaped, elongate-oval, flattened; Some give off a pineapple like odor when handled, integument is finely sculpted with little pits, waxy outer layer that makes them hard to catch; Being researched for nanotechnology because of their motion; Swim on surface water if undisturbed, go underwater when threatened, swim rapidly in circles with alarmed; Occupy areas where water flows steadily & not too fast (minor rapids & narrows in leisurely streams); Predators; Eat any insects trapped in water surface film; Swim in groups, very gregarious, position in group determined by sex, species, age, stress level, amount of hunger…, drafting- swimming behind other beetles to take advantage of forward moving drafts; Common name- swim in circles when alarmed, some called “four eyed fish”;

Hydrophilidae (water scavenger beetles)

  • Head: Maxillary palps elongate, longer than antennae; Antennae 7- to 9-segmented, with 3-segmented club, length <1 mm; Eyes don’t bulge;
  • Thorax: Wings well-developed, absent, or much reduced; HL flattened with a fringe of hairs; Move hind legs alternately when swimming;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-40mm; Black/dull green; Body oval-shaped; Come up for air head first, & move hind legs alternately, metasternum frequently prolonged posteriorly as a sharp spine;
  • Human Impact: Some pests in fish hatcheries, others pest control (mosquito larvae);
  • Habitat: Mostly aquatic, worldwide;
  • Diet: Some scavengers, some predators; Some eat decaying plant matter, others eat insects?;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (544) 93

Maxillary palps elongate, longer than antennae; Antennae 7- to 9-segmented, with 3-segmented club, length <1 mm; Eyes don’t bulge; Wings well-developed, absent, or much reduced; HL flattened with a fringe of hairs; Move hind legs alternately when swimming; 1-40mm; Black/dull green; Body oval-shaped; Come up for air head first, & move hind legs alternately, metasternum frequently prolonged posteriorly as a sharp spine; Some pests in fish hatcheries, others pest control (mosquito larvae); Mostly aquatic, worldwide; Some scavengers, some predators; Some eat decaying plant matter, others predators;

Histeridae (hister beetles)

  • Head: Elbowed antennae, clubbed ends; Compound eyes don’t move; Specialized head that can retract into prothorax;
  • Thorax: Elytra rectangular & shortened, expose HW, 2/7 tergites; Flattened jointed legs, FL for digging, 5-5-5 tarsal; Dorsal side of prothorax is a sclerotized shield, the pronotum;
  • Internal Anatomy: Open circulatory system within body cavity, tube shaped heart that spans length of body, use hemolymph as blood, doesn’t contain oxygen but carries nutrients to body, oxygen is brought by spiracles;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Reproductive organs hidden beneath last few sternites on the mesosternal side, females- ovipositor, males- copulatory, female has oviducts that carry the developed eggs from the ovaries to the ovipositor;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-20mm; Usually black/shiny, some bright; Oval, flat bodies, some elongate & cylindrical, hard;
  • Human Impact: Useful in forensics to find time of death, some control livestock pests that infest dung, also control houseflies;
  • Habitat: Active at night, Decaying plant material, or in rotting wood, or under bark, or associated with fungi, or associated with dung, or associated with carrion, or on shed fur or feathers;
  • Diet: Most predators, some cannibals, can live in harmony with ants; Feed on other insects/small invertebrates;
  • Explanation of Name: Named by Leonard Gyllenhaal, AKA Clown Beetles;
  • Misc: Will fake death if threatened; Able to locate dung & carrion by smell; Active in spring/summer
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (546) 199

Elytra rectangular & shortened, expose HW, 2/7 tergites; Elbowed antennae, clubbed ends; Compound eyes don’t move; Specialized heads that can retract into prothorax; Flattened jointed legs, FL for digging, 5-5-5 tarsal; Dorsal side of prothorax is a sclerotized shield, the pronotum; Open circulatory system within body cavity, tube shaped heart that spans length of body, use hemolymph as blood, doesn’t contain oxygen but carries nutrients to body, oxygen is brought by spiracles; Reproductive organs hidden beneath last few sternites on the mesosternal side, females- ovipositor, males- copulatory, female has oviducts that carry the developed eggs from the ovaries to the ovipositor; 1-20mm; Usually black/shiny, some bright; Oval, flat bodies, some elongate & cylindrical, hard; Most active at night, play dead; Spring/summer; Useful in forensics to find time of death, some control livestock pests that infest dung, also control houseflies; Active at night, Decaying plant material, or in rotting wood, or under bark, or associated with fungi, or associated with dung, or associated with carrion, or on shed fur or feathers; Most predators, some cannibals, can live in harmony with ants; Feed on other insects/small invertebrates; Named by Leonard Gyllenhaal AKA Clown Beetles; Will fake death if threatened; Able to locate dung & carrion by smell;

Staphylinidae (rove beetles)

  • Head: Sharp mandibles; Antennae 11 seg & filiform, some moderate clubbing;
  • Thorax: Short elytra, leave more than ½ of abdomen exposed (same length as pronotum), hide HW under elytra: Tarsal usually 5-5-5; Run fast, fly well;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-10mm; Most black/brown; Body elongated with parallel sides; Some resemble earwigs;
  • Human Impact: Pest control;
  • Habitat: Moist habitats, under logs, rocks;
  • Diet: Many predators of insects; Many eat other insects, some carrion…;
  • Misc: Some species run with abdomen curled up over thorax as if it were a stinger but no rove beetle has a stinger; some resemble earwigs;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (547) 240, 277

Sharp mandibles; Antennae 11 seg & filiform, some moderate clubbing; Short elytra, leave more than ½ of abdomen exposed (same length as pronotum), hide HW under elytra: Tarsal usually 5-5-5; Run fast, fly well; 1-10mm; Most black/brown; Body elongated with parallel sides; Some resemble earwigs; Pest control; Moist habitats, under logs, rocks; Many predators of insects; Many eat other insects, some carrion…; Some species run with abdomen curled up over thorax as if it were a stinger but no rove beetle has a stinger; some resemble earwigs;

Silphidae (carrion beetles)

  • Head: Antennae clavate/capitate;
  • Thorax: Many have wings but are flightless (some fly), HW delicately folded under elytra, FW broad posteriorly, loosely covering abdomen, some expose 1-3 segments;
  • Misc Anatomy: 7-45mm; Black; often with red, orange, or yellow markings; Elongate oval body;
  • Human Impact: Help decompose, forensic help in how long dead a person is (Post-Mortem interval PMI), some pests;
  • Habitat: Most abundant in the temperate zone; Live wherever carrion is, some come to lights;
  • Diet: Most scavengers/decomposers, have mutualistic relationship with other organisms; Feed in a saprophagous way, Eat dead/decaying matter, colonize the carrion during all four stages of decomposition (fresh, bloated, decay, dry);
  • Sociality: Display some social behavior by colonizing dead animals;
  • Explanation of Name: Some called Sexton beetles;
  • Misc: Some active June-September; Defense- warning colors warn predators that they won’t taste very good;
  • More About Feeding Habits: When an animal dies, hydrogen sulfide & some cyclic compounds are released. Silphidae use their sense of smell to locate carcasses from a long distance by chemoreceptors on their antennae, which are adapted to detect these chemicals;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (548) 174, 176, 177, 223

Many have wings but are flightless (some fly), HW delicately folded under elytra, FW broad posteriorly, loosely covering abdomen, some expose 1-3 segments; Antennae clavate/capitate; 7-45mm; Black; often with red, orange, or yellow markings; Elongate oval body; Some June-September; Help decompose, forensic help in how long dead a person is (Post-Mortem interval PMI), some pests; Most abundant in the temperate zone; Live wherever carrion is, some come to lights; Most scavengers/decomposers, have mutualistic relationship with other organisms; Feed in a saprophagous way, Eat dead/decaying matter, colonize the carrion during all four stages of decomposition (fresh, bloated, decay, dry); Display some social behavior by colonizing dead animals; Some called Sexton beetles; Defense- warning colors warn predators that they won’t taste very good; When an animal dies, hydrogen sulfide & some cyclic compounds are released. Silphidae use their sense of smell to locate carcasses from a long distance by chemoreceptors on their antennae, which are adapted to detect these chemicals;

Lucanidae (stag beetles)

  • Head: Males have Mandibles for combat/defense, maxillae & labium for lapping up liquids; Antennae 10 seg, last 3-7 enlarged to form a club, jointed (geniculate);
  • Thorax: FW usually smooth; 5-5-5 tarsal; Pronotum without a median groove; Scutellum exposed;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females smaller generally, smaller mandibles;
  • Misc Anatomy: 8-60mm; Reddish-brown/black; Elongate, robust; Very large, some come to light;
  • Human Impact: Important wood decomposers;
  • Habitat: Worldwide, wooded areas;
  • Diet: Decomposers; Some eat leaves, sap, or honeydew, most decompose wood;
  • Explanation of Name: Some called Pinching Bugs, mandibles resemble antlers of stags;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (551) 187, 189, 217, 219

Males have Mandibles for combat/defense, maxillae & labium for lapping up liquids; FW usually smooth; Antennae 10 seg, last 3-7 enlarged to form a club, jointed (geniculate); 5-5-5 tarsal; 8-60mm; Reddish-brown/black; Elongate, robust; Very large, some come to light; Pronotum without a median groove; Scutellum exposed; Females smaller generally, smaller mandibles; Important wood decomposers; Worldwide, wooded areas; Decomposers; Some eat leaves, sap, or honeydew, most decompose wood; Some called Pinching Bugs, mandibles resemble antlers of stags;

Passalidae (bess beetles)

  • Head: Mouthparts project forward, mandibles robust, toothed; Antennae 10 seg, curved not elbowed; Head with a forward directed horn;
  • Thorax: Make sounds by rubbing the undersides of HW against abdomen (14 distinct sounds), longitudinal ridges on HW; 5-5-5 tarsal; Pronotum with distinct median groove;
  • Misc Anatomy: 30-40mm, up to 80mm; Shiny black; Elongate-cylindrical & depressed; Don’t bite; Gap between elytra & pronotum;
  • Habitat: Live inside rotting logs in forests;
  • Diet: Feed on wood;
  • Sociality: Subsocial;
  • Explanation of Name: “passalos”- peg/gag (appearance of beetle protruding from wood), aka patent leather beetles, betsy beetles, horned passalus beetles;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (555) 192

Mouthparts project forward, mandibles robust, toothed; Antennae 10 seg, curved not elbowed; Head with a forward directed horn; Make sounds by rubbing the undersides of HW against abdomen (14 distinct sounds), longitudinal ridges on HW; 5-5-5 tarsal; Pronotum with distinct median groove; 30-40mm, up to 80mm; Shiny black; Elongate-cylindrical & depressed; Don’t bite, gap between elytra & pronotum; Live inside rotting logs in forests; Feed on wood; Subsocial; “passalos”- peg/gag (appearance of beetle protruding from wood), aka patent leather beetles, betsy beetles, horned passalus beetles;

Scarabaeidae (dung beetles)

  • Head: Lamellate antennae, 8-11 seg, segments of the club capable of being held tightly together; Stout, large head;
  • Thorax: Well-developed wings; Spiny legs for digging;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Some males (and sometimes females) have horns on head;
  • Misc Anatomy: 2-62mm, some 100mm; Most brown/black, some brightly patterned/metallic; Oval/elongated, usu convex, body robust; Strong sense of smell;
  • Human Impact: Helpful, protect cattle from flies, decompose;
  • Habitat: Desert, forest, farmland, grassland;
  • Diet: Most eat dung, carrion, fungi, some eat pollen/sap, store food (dung) by rolling it up/burying it;
  • Explanation of Name: Name comes from scarabs;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (556) 200, 204, 208, 212, 219, 228, 233, 234, 242

Well-developed wings; Lamellate antennae, 8-11 seg, segments of the club capable of being held tightly together; Stout, large head; Spiny legs for digging; 2-62mm, some 100mm; Most brown/black, some brightly patterned/metallic; Oval/elongated, usu convex, body robust; Strong smell; Some males (and sometimes females) have horns on head; Helpful, protect cattle from flies, decompose; Desert, forest, farmland, grassland; Most eat dung, carrion, fungi, some eat pollen/sap, store food (dung) by rolling it up/burying it; Name comes from scarabs;

Buprestidae (metallic wood-boring beetles)

  • Head: Chewing mouth; Antennae short, threadlike, sawtoothed, comblike;
  • Thorax: Powerful fliers;
  • Abdomen: End of abdomen pointed;
  • Life Cycle: larvae bore under bark or in wood & take 1-3 years to develop;
  • Misc Anatomy: 3-80mm (most under 20mm); Hard-bodied, Cylindrical/elongate (bullet-shaped), parallel sided to elongate robust, some strongly oval;
  • Human Impact: Elytra sought after for jewelry, larvae bad tree pests;
  • Habitat: Found on foliage/bark, basking in the sun on trunks & branches of dying/unhealthy trees;
  • Diet: Some eat wood (hemlock), some stems/leaves;
  • Explanation of Name: Some called Jewel Beetles, larvae called Flat-head Borers;
  • Misc: Glossy iridescent colors caused by structural coloration, in which microscopic texture in their cuticle selectively reflects specific frequencies of light in particular directions, very bright, ventral surface metallic or bronzed; Hard to collect because they evade their captors;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (562) 179, 210, 237

Chewing mouth; Antennae short, threadlike, sawtoothed, comblike; End of abdomen pointed; Powerful fliers; 3-80mm (most under 20mm); larvae bore under bark or in wood & take 1-3 years to develop; Glossy iridescent colors caused by structural coloration, in which microscopic texture in their cuticle selectively reflects specific frequencies of light in particular directions, very bright, ventral surface metallic or bronzed; Hard-bodied, Cylindrical/elongate (bullet-shaped), parallel sided to elongate robust, some strongly oval; Elytra sought after for jewelry, larvae bad tree pests; Found on foliage/bark, basking in the sun on trunks & branches of dying/unhealthy trees; Some eat wood (hemlock), some stems/leaves; Some called Jewel Beetles, larvae called Flat-head Borers; Hard to collect because they evade their captors;

Elateridae (click beetles, wireworms)

  • Head: Some don’t feed, vestigial mouthparts; Most antennae serrate, some filiform or pectinate; Eyes usually large & protuberant, often smaller in females, finely facetted, ommatidium of exocone type; Head usu prognathous;
  • Thorax: 5-5-5 Tarsal;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Ovipositor usually with paraprocts longer than gonocoxites, styli usually present & subapical;
  • Life Cycle: life cycle usually two years;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-60mm; pronotum has pointed or spiny extensions at the posterior corners, which fit snugly around the elytra; Usu black/brown, some have red/yellow; Elongate body with parallel sides; Some bioluminescent, black brown, some brightly patterned; Posternum with an elongate love extending posteriorly into a mesosternal depression (“click”), prosternum lobed anteriorly;
  • Human Impact: Some larvae pests, most little importance, some adults crop pests;
  • Habitat: Found in almost all habitats (not extreme conditions), adults found on flowers/vegetation or under bark;
  • Diet: Some predators, Most herbivores; Eat plants, larvae can eat other insects;
  • Explanation of Name: Larvae called wireworms, AKA elaters, snapping beetles, spring beetles or skipjacks;
  • Misc: Can “click” if placed on back (to right self) by snapping posternal spine into a groove on the mesosternum, 8 feet/second;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (565) 186, 222

Some don’t feed; Most serrate, some filiform or pectinate; Eyes usually large & protuberant, often smaller in females, finely facetted, ommatidium of exocone type; Head usu prognathous; 5-5-5 Tarsal; Ovipositor usually with paraprocts longer than gonocoxites, styli usually present & subapical; 1-60mm; pronotum has pointed or spiny extensions at the posterior corners, which fit snugly around the elytra; Usu black/brown, some have red/yellow; Life cycle usually two years; Elongate body with parallel sides; Can “click” if placed on back (to right self) by snapping posternal spine into a groove on the mesosternum, 8 feet/second; Some bioluminescent, black brown, some brightly patterned; Some larvae pests, most little importance, some adults crop pests; Found in almost all habitats (not extreme conditions), adults found on flowers/vegetation or under bark; Some predators, Most herbivores; Eat plants, larvae can eat other insects; “elater” means driver, hurler (refers to “clicking); Posternum with an elongate love extending posteriorly into a mesosternal depression (“click”), prosternum lobed anteriorly; Larvae called wireworms; AKA elaters, snapping beetles, spring beetles or skipjacks;

Lampyridae (fire flies)

  • Head: Some have no mouth; Larvae have simple eyes (adults- compound); Head CONCEALED FROM ABOVE BY PRONOTUM;
  • Thorax: Elytra leathery; 5-5-5 tarsal;
  • Abdomen: Last 2-3 abdominal segments modified to produce light;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females either similar in appearance to males or laviform; Some females don’t develop wings; Males flash in specific patterns to attract females;
  • Life Cycle: Overwinter during larval stage, some for several years, adults live for two months in the wild, Females deposit their eggs in the ground, which is where larvae develop to adulthood. Underground larvae feed on worms & slugs by injecting them with a numbing fluid;
  • Misc Anatomy: 4-18mm; Usu black/brown; Elongate bodies;
  • Habitat: Temperate/tropical environments;
  • Diet: Some predatory, others herbivores; Some eat other insects, some eat pollen/nectar, some don’t feed;
  • Explanation of Name: “lampyris”- glowworm;
  • Misc: Found during Spring & early Summer;
  • How Light is Produced: (bioluminescense), enzyme luciferase acts on the luciferin, in the presence of magnesium ions, ATP, & oxygen to produce light, unique because able to turn their light on & off (most light insects glow continuously);
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (567) 171 & 173, 172

Some have no mouth; Larvae have simple eyes (adults- compound); Head CONCEALED FROM ABOVE BY PRONOTUM; Elytra leathery; 5-5-5 tarsal; Females either similar in appearance to males or laviform; Last 2-3 abdominal segments modified to produce light; 4-18mm; Usu black/brown; Elongate bodies; Produce light (bioluminescense), enzyme luciferase acts on the luciferin, in the presence of magnesium ions, ATP, & oxygen to produce light, unique because able to turn their light on & off (most light insects glow continuously); Overwinter during larval stage, some for several years, adults live for two months in the wild, Females deposit their eggs in the ground, which is where larvae develop to adulthood. Underground larvae feed on worms & slugs by injecting them with a numbing fluid.; Spring & early Summer; Some females don’t develop wings; Males flash in specific patterns to attract females; Temperate/tropical environments; Some predatory, others herbivores; Some eat other insects, some eat pollen/nectar, some don’t feed; “lampyris”- glowworm;

Cantharidae (soldier beetles)

  • Head: Head somewhat protrudes from pronotum, not concealed from above; Antennae long, slender, threadlike;
  • Thorax: Elytra soft, flexible; Long legs, 5-5-5 tarsal, 4th seg lobed;
  • Misc Anatomy: Usu yellow elytra with black spots; Secrete carthardin; Soft bodied, straight sided, somewhat flattened;
  • Habitat: Foliage & flowers
  • Diet: Adults herbivores, some predators; Eat nectar, pollen, other insects;
  • Explanation of Name: Soldier beetle- one species = bright red, reminds people of soldiers;
  • Misc: Some come to lights;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (570) 162, 168

Elytra soft, flexible; Head somewhat protrudes from pronotum, not concealed from above; Long legs, 5-5-5 tarsal, 4th seg lobed; Antennae long, slender, threadlike; Usu yellow elytra with black spots; Secrete carthardin; Soft bodied, straight sided, somewhat flattened; Goldenrod Soldier Beetle- late summer/early fall; Foliage & flowers; Adults herbivores, some predators; Nectar, pollen, other insects; Soldier beetle- one species = bright red, reminds people of soldiers; Some come to lights;

Lycidae (net-winged beetles)

  • Head: Antennae long, thick, serrate; Triangular head concealed from above;
  • Thorax: Network of ridges on FW, FW reticulate with longitudinal ridges;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Males smaller than females;
  • Misc Anatomy: 10-15mm; Most brick-red color; Elongated, flat, soft bodied;
  • Habitat: Found on flowers or stems;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Don’t feed, plant juices, other insects, larvae predators;
  • Misc: Are toxic;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (570) 160, 163

Network of ridges on FW, FW reticulate with longitudinal ridges; Antennae long, thick, serrate; Triangular head concealed from above; Males smaller than females; 10-15mm; Most brick-red color; Elongated, flat, soft bodied; Females larger than males; Found on flowers or stems; Herbivores; Don’t feed, plant juices, other insects, larvae predators; Are toxic;

Cleridae (checkered beetles)

  • Head: Most antennae clubbed, others clubbed, saw-tooth, or thread-like;
  • Thorax: Elytra have tiny depressions; 5-5-5 tarsal;
  • Misc Anatomy: 2-24mm; Body marked with red, orange, yellow, blue; Long, narrow, covered in bristly hairs;
  • Human Impact: Used in forensics, finding PMI (time elapsed after death) & tell which products have been unwrapped for how long, Necrobia rufipes- pest of stored meats;
  • Habitat: Live throughout the world, like flowers/trees, found on recently dead trees/flowers;
  • Diet: Most predators, others scavengers or pollen feeders; Some eat other beetles/larvae, others pollen;
  • Explanation of Name: Some called Checkered Flower Beetles;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (574) 141, 142, 144, 230

Elytra have tiny depressions; 5-5-5 tarsal; Most antennae clubbed, others clubbed, saw-tooth, or thread-like; 2-24mm; Body marked with red, orange, yellow, blue; Long, narrow, covered in bristly hairs, ; Used in forensics, finding PMI (time elapsed after death) & tell which products have been unwrapped for how long, Necrobia rufipes- pest of stored meats; Live throughout the world, like flowers/trees, found on recently dead trees/flowers; Most predators, others scavengers or pollen feeders; Some eat other beetles/larvae, others pollen; Some called Checkered Flower Beetles;

Coccinellidae (ladybugs)

  • Head: Chewing mouth; Antennae 8-11 seg, very short, last 3-6 seg form weak club; Head partly or completely concealed by pronotum;
  • Thorax: Short legs, tuck under body, 4-4-4 tarsal; Large pronotum, almost conceals head;
  • Abdomen: Abdomen 5-6 visible sterna, rarely with 7, the first sternum usually with a postcoxal line that is often used to distinguish between species;
  • Life Cycle: Some overwinter in groups;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-10mm, larvae bigger than adults; Black with red spots or red/orange with black spots (colors vary); Body convex/oval; Release hemolymph from legs when threatened;
  • Human Impact: Can cause allergic reaction/eye irritation, can taint wine made from grapes, Usu very beneficial in aphid control;
  • Habitat: Live wherever aphids are found;
  • Diet: Almost all predators, a few prefer plants/mildew; Aphids/scale bugs (a few- plants/mildew);
  • Explanation of Name: “coccinella”- scarlet;
  • Misc: Females lay infertile eggs as a food source for larvae;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers:(579) 145, 146, 147, 148, 183 (178- larvae)

Chewing mouth; Antennae 8-11 seg, very short, last 3-6 seg form weak club; Head partly or completely concealed by pronotum; Short legs, tuck under body, 4-4-4 tarsal; Abdomen 5-6 visible sterna, rarely with 7, the first sternum usually with a postcoxal line that is often used to distinguish between species; 1-10mm, larvae bigger than adults; Black with red spots or red/orange with black spots (colors vary); Body convex/oval; Large pronotum, almost conceals head; Release hemolymph from legs when threatened; Females lay infertile eggs as a food source for larvae; Adults some overwinter in groups; Can cause allergic reaction/eye irritation, can taint wine made from grapes, Usu very beneficial in aphid control; (Allergic reactions…); Live wherever aphids are found; Almost all predators, a few prefer plants/mildew; Aphids/scale bugs (a few- plants/mildew); “coccinella”- scarlet;

Tenebrionidae (darkling beetles)

  • Head: Antennae thread-like, bead-like, clubbed, 11 seg; Eyes notched by a frontal ridge; Clypeus & labrum exhibiting membrane or not; mandibles dentate;
  • Thorax: Many large species can’t fly- fused elytra; 5-5-4 tarsal, tarsal claws simple;
  • Abdomen: First abdominal sternite entire & not divided by the hind coxae;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-80mm; Most dark, some colored/patterned (usu red); Elongate/oval, flattened;
  • Human Impact: Larvae raised as animal food, some pests of stored grain;
  • Habitat: Under stones, decaying logs, bark, on bracket fungi, or on the ground;
  • Diet: Most scavengers; Eat plant material, dead insects, dung, some eat bark, others pests of grain;
  • Misc: Many have chemical defenses, Eleodes beetles raise their abdomens high in the air, so they almost appear to be standing on their heads, while fleeing the suspected danger
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (583) 185, 190, 197, 224, 225

Clypeus & labrum exhibiting membrane or not; mandibles dentate; Many large species can’t fly- fused elytra; Antennae thread-like, bead-like, clubbed, 11 seg; Eyes notched by a frontal ridge; 5-5-4 tarsal, tarsal claws simple; First abdominal sternite entire & not divided by the hind coxae; 1-80mm; Most dark, some colored/patterned (usu red); Elongate/oval, flattened; Many have chemical defenses, Eleodes beetles raise their abdomens high in the air, so they almost appear to be standing on their heads, while fleeing the suspected danger; 15,000 species; Larvae raised as animal food, some pests of stored grain; Under stones, decaying logs, bark, on bracket fungi, or on the ground; Most scavengers; Eat plant material, dead insects, dung, some eat bark, others pests of grain; *Worm-like, with slender, elongate bodies; “false wireworms”-resemble click beetle larvae; Pests of stored products; Scavenge on plant matter, stored gains/veggies; Many raised as food; Females lay eggs in soil; Pupation occurs in soil;

Information about Immatures/Life Cycle of Tenebrionidae

  • Shape: Worm-like, with slender, elongate bodies;
  • Explanation of Name: "false wireworms" -resemble click beetle larvae;
  • Human Impact: Pests of stored products; Many raised as food;
  • Diet: Scavenge on plant matter, stored gains/veggies;
  • Life Cycle: Females lay eggs in soil; Pupation occurs in soil;

Meloidae (blister beetles)

  • Head: Antennae filiform (thread-like) or moniliform (beaded);Head broad, wider than pronotum;
  • Thorax: Elytra not flat, rolled over abdomen; Tarsi 5-5-4; claw either toothed or lobed (split); Pronotum narrower than FW; Pronotum cylindrical & narrow;
  • Life Cycle: Hypermatamorphic- several larval stages (first is mobile triungulin)
  • Misc Anatomy: 3-70mm, most 10-20mm; Usu dull (Western species colorful), some aposematically colored; Elongated/cylindrical, soft, leathery; Soft-bodied;
  • Human Impact: Many pests of tomatoes/potatoes, some cantharidin used medically to remove warts; Can cause blistering on skin;
  • Habitat: Around flowers, wherever grasshoppers/bees are;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Feed on leaves/flowers;
  • Sociality: Gregarious
  • Explanation of Name: “blister beetle”- blisters on human skin;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (587) 161, 167, 202

Elytra not flat, rolled over abdomen; Antennae filiform (thread-like) or moniliform (beaded);Head broad, wider than pronotum; Tarsi 5-5-4; claw either toothed or lobed (split); Pronotum narrower than FW; 3-70mm, most 10-20mm; Usu dull (Western species colorful), some aposematically colored; Elongated/cylindrical, soft, leatnery; Soft-bodied; Pronotum cylindrical & narrow; Many pests of tomatoes/potatoes, some cantharidin used medically; Secrete cantharidin, causes blistering on skin (used medically to remove warts); Around flowers, wherever grasshoppers/bees are; Gregarious; Herbivores; Feed on leaves/flowers; “blister beetle”- blisters on human skin; Hypermatamorphic, several larval stages (first is mobile triungulin)

Cerambycidae (long-horned beetles)

  • Head: Strong, sharp mandibles; Very long 11 seg back-sweeping antennae (usu filiform, some serrate/comblike); Compound eyes wrap around base of antennae, eyes notched;
  • Thorax: Many long legs, 5-5-5 tarsal;
  • Misc Anatomy: 3-150mm, most 3-60mm; Some metallic, most mottled/gray; All somewhat elongate, some cigar-shaped;
  • Human Impact: Larvae Damage trees/plants, help decompose trees;
  • Habitat: Found all over world;
  • Diet: Most herbivores; Eat plants (some adults don’t feed);
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (590) 143, 157, 158, 159, 169, 180, 181, 184,188, 193, 194 & 220, 221, 229, 231, 232, 241, 244, 245

Strong, sharp mandibles; Many long legs, 5-5-5 tarsal; Very long 11 seg back-sweeping antennae (usu filiform, some serrate/comblike); Compound eyes wrap around base of antennae, eyes notched; 3-150mm, most 3-60mm; Some metallic, most mottled/gray; All somewhat elongate, some cigar-shaped; Elongate thorax, small head; Larvae Damage trees/plants, help decompose trees; Found all over world; Most herbivores; Eat plants (some adults don’t feed); *Legs poorly developed or absent; Length from 5-220mm; Pests, borers (also play role in decomposing wood); Found in dead/decaying wood or soil, eat a lot; Decomposers?; Most feed on wood, others living plant tissue; Eggs white, oval; Most time is spent in larval stage; 1-3 years;

Information about Immatures/Life Cycle of Cerambycidae

  • Habitat: Found in dead/decaying wood or soil, eat a lot;
  • Diet: Decomposers?; Most feed on wood, others living plant tissue;
  • Human Impact: Pests, borers (also play role in decomposing wood);
  • Life Cycle: Eggs white, oval; Most time is spent in larval stage; 1-3 years;
  • Anatomy: Legs poorly developed or absent; Length from 5-220mm;

Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles)

  • Head: Antennae much shorter than body (dif from Cerambycidae); Eyes not notched/divided;
  • Thorax: 5-5-5 tarsal, looks 4-4-4;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-16mm; Shiny/brightly colored, spots/stripes; Variable in form, some round, oval, somewhat square, either flattened or domed;
  • Human Impact: Very bad pests of plants, some good- eat weeds, popular among insect collectors because color; Some transmit plant diseases;
  • Habitat: Found wherever plants are, flowers & foliage;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Eat plant tissue/juices;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA Chrysomelid beetles, Tortoise beetles or Eucalypt beetles;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (603) 149, 150, 151, 153, 154, 155,182, 198, 205, 211, 214, 215, 243;

Antennae much shorter than body (dif from Cerambycidae); Eyes not notched/divided; 5-5-5 tarsal, looks 4-4-4; 1-16mm; Shiny/brightly colored, spots/stripes; Variable in form, some round, oval, somewhat square, either flattened or domed; Very bad pests of plants, some good- eat weeds, popular among insect collectors because color; Some transmit plant diseases; Found wherever plants are, flowers & foliage; Herbivores; Eat plant tissue/juices; AKA Chrysomelids, Tortoise Beetless or Eucalypt beetles;

Curculionidae (weevils)

  • Head: Long proboscis, chewing mouthparts at end, snout = rostrum; Antennae elbowed & clubbed;
  • Thorax: 5-5-5 tarsal;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-40mm, usu 3-12; Variable in shape; Head elongated to fit “snout”; Snout really a proboscis with chewing mouthparts; Hard body;
  • Human Impact: Many really bad plant pests, other beneficial- eat weeds; Carry plant diseases that infect recovering/healthy plants (Dutch elm);
  • Habitat: Found wherever plants are;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Eat plants;
  • Sociality: Some completely social, others just live & feed together;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (612) 130,131, 132, 133, 134, 136, 137, 138

Long proboscis, chewing mouthparts at end, snout = rostrum; 5-5-5 tarsal; Antennae elbowed & clubbed; 1-40mm, usu 3-12; Variable in shape; Head elongated to fit “snout”; Snout really a proboscis with chewing mouthparts; Hard body; Many really bad plant pests, other beneficial- eat weeds; Carry plant diseases that infect recovering/healthy plants (Dutch elm); Found wherever plants are; Herbivores; Eat plants; Some completely social, others just live & feed together;

Table for Distinguishing Coleoptera Families

Coleoptera Quick-ID
Family Name Characteristics
Cicindelidae Brightly colored/shiny; Somewhat bullet-shaped; Big eyes; Visible mandibles;
Carabidae Pronotum wider than head; Visible mandibles; Elytra grooved;
Dysticidae Legs fringed and flattened; Body shape- elongate/oval;
Gyrinidae Antennae clubbed; Compound eyes split; FL much longer than HL and ML; Somewhat convex;
Hydrophilidae Prothorax wider than head; All legs same; Antennae clubbed, shorter than maxillary palps;
Histeridae Abruptly clubbed antennae; Elytra short; Body short;
Staphylinidae Very short elytra, expose abdomen; Body long & slender;
Silphidae Distinctive prothorax; Clubbed antennae;
Lucanidae Large mandibles, elbowed antennae;
Passalidae Antennae clubbed; Gap between prothorax and elytra (called median longitudinal groove); Elytra ridged;
Scarabaeidae Lamellate antennae; Prothorax larger than head;
Buprestidae Shiny, bullet-shaped;
Elateridae Head loosely joined to thorax;
Lamphyridae Head concealed from above by pronotum;
Cantharidae Head not concealed from above by pronotum;
Lycidae Serrate antennae; Elytra with a net-pattern;
Cleridae Antennae clubbed/geniculate; Colored with patterns of yellow/orange/red/blue;
Coccinellidae Head concealed by prothorax;
Tenebrionidae Usu black; head smaller than thorax/abdomen;
Meloidae Head larger than prothorax; Elytra don't always cover abdomen;
Cerambycidae Long backsweeping antennae;
Chrysomelidae Antennae half the length of body;
Curculionidae Have a snout;

Strepsiptera (twisted-wing parasite)

  • Head: Males- reduced mandibulate mouthparts (not used for feeding), many modified into sensory structures; Antennae 4-7 seg, 3 lateral branches, fanlike; Males- Compound eyes protruding look like raspberries;
  • Thorax: Males- Large, fan-shaped HW, small club-like FW, few veins; Only 1st instar larvae have legs, no legs have trochanters; Saddlelike prothorax;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females remain larviform, wingless, & legless, reduced mouthparts, eyes, antennae, head & prothoax fused & protrude from between the abdominal plates of their insect host, large soft abdomen is full of eggs, release pheromone; Males- winged, free-living, don’t feed
  • Life Cycle: Hypermetamorphic development: first instars (planidia) are free-living & highly mobile. They locate & enter the body of a host. Subsequent instars are legless, grub-like internal parasites; Some live less than 5 hours;
  • Misc Anatomy: .5-4mm
  • Human Impact: No impact- not abundant; No diseases but some can cause insects to be “stylopized” (destruction of hosts’ reproductive organs & sometimes a reversal of secondary sex characteristics (females look like males);
  • Habitat: Uncommon
  • Diet: Parasites of bees, wasps, grasshoppers, leafhoppers (females cannot live without host); Many don’t feed,
  • Explanation of Name: The name Strepsiptera, derived from the Greek "strepsi" meaning turned or twisted and "ptera" meaning wings, refers to the resting position of the male's large hind wings.
  • Misc: Recent DNA studies suggest a close relationship to flies;

Males- reduced mandibulate mouthparts (not used for feeding), many modified into sensory structures; Antennae 4-7 seg, 3 lateral branches, fanlike; Males- Compound eyes protruding look like raspberries; Males- Large, fan-shaped HW, small club-like FW, few veins; Only 1st instar larvae have legs, no legs have trochanters; Saddlelike prothorax; .5-4mm; Females remain larviform, wingless, & legless, reduced mouthparts, eyes, antennae, head & prothoax fused & protrude from between the abdominal plates of their insect host, large soft abdomen is full of eggs, release pheromone; Males- winged, free-living, don’t feed; Hypermetamorphic development: first instars (planidia) are free-living & highly mobile. They locate & enter the body of a host. Subsequent instars are legless, grub-like internal parasites; No impact- not abundant; No diseases but some can cause insects to be “stylopized” (destruction of hosts’ reproductive organs & sometimes a reversal of secondary sex characteristics (females look like males); Uncommon, Parasites of bees, wasps, grasshoppers, leafhoppers (females cannot live without host); Many don’t feed, live less than 5 hrs; “Strepsi”- turned/twisted, “ptera”- wing; Recent DNA studies suggest a close relationship to flies;

Mecoptera (scorpionflies)

  • Head: Mandibulate, long mandibles & fleshy palps; Very long filiform antennae, 14 seg; Compound eyes on side of head, 3 ocelli on top; Head extended downward;
  • Thorax: FW & HW narrow, similar & size, numerous crossveins (some secondarily wingless), membranous, banded & spotted or have darkened patterns along veins; Long, spindly legs, short claws (5 seg tarsi), HL equipped with a single claw for grabbing prey;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Males of some species have enlarged external genitalia held recurved over the abdomen like a scorpion's tail;
  • Life Cycle: Male offers gifts to female during courtship, females deposit eggs in soil, torren wood, or moss, larvae resemble caterpillars or C-shaped grubs, molt four time, many immatures have compound eyes with 30+ lenses, immature Body eruciform (caterpillar-like) or scarabaeiform (grub-like); Larvae emerge after dry season; None
  • Misc Anatomy: 3-30mm; Body soft & cylindrical in shape, long & slender;
  • Human Impact: Not pests, not abundant;
  • Habitat: Humid temperatures, subtropical climate; Present worldwide, but seldom common;
  • Diet: Some predators, all omnivores; Eat decaying vegetation & dead insects;
  • Explanation of Name: The name Mecoptera, derived from the Greek words "meco" meaning long and "ptera" meaning wings, refers to the shape of both the front and hind wings.
  • Misc: Hanging scorpionflies are the only predatory insects that catch prey with their hind legs;

Mandibulate, long mandibles & fleshy palps; Very long filiform antennae, 14 seg; Compound eyes on side of head, 3 ocelli on top; Head extended downward; FW & HW narrow, similar & size, numerous crossveins (some secondarily wingless), membranous, banded & spotted or have darkened patterns along veins; Long, spindly legs, short claws (5 seg tarsi), HW equipped with a single claw for grabbing prey; 3-30mm; Body soft & cylindrical in shape, long & slender; Males of some species have enlarged external genitalia held recurved over the abdomen like a scorpion's tail; Male offers gifts to female during courtship, females deposit eggs in soil, torren wood, or moss, larvae resemble caterpillars or C-shaped grubs, molt four time, many immatures have compound eyes with 30+ lenses, immature Body eruciform (caterpillar-like) or scarabaeiform (grub-like); Larvae emerge after dry season; None pests, not abundant; Humid temperatures, subtropical climate; Present worldwide, but seldom common; Some predators, all omnivores; Eat decaying vegetation & dead insects; “meco”- long (long wings); Hanging scorpionflies are the only predatory insects that catch prey with their hind legs;

Boreidae (snow scorpionflies)

  • Head: Slender mandiblate mouth; Long antennae; Prominent round eyes;
  • Thorax: Wings reduced to bristles/absent (used by male to hold female while mating); HL long, jumping, tarsi w/ two claws;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females have straight ovipositor same length as beak; Males have blunt rounded abdominal tip;
  • Misc Anatomy: 6mm or less; Darkly-colored; Elongated “beak” (rostrum);
  • Human Impact: Not abundant enough to have impact;
  • Habitat: On snow in high elevations;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Feed on mosses/liverworts;
  • Misc: Active- November-March (south), Spring-summer (north);
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (624) 74

Slender mandiblate mouth; Wings reduced to bristles/absent (used by male to hold female while mating); HL long, jumping, tarsi w/ two claws; Long antennae; Prominent round eyes; 6mm or less; Darkly-colored; Elongated “beak” (rostrum); November-March (south), Spring-summer (north); Females have straight ovipositor same length as beak; Males have blunt rounded abdominal tip; Not abundant enough to have impact; On snow in high elevations; Herbivores; Feed on mosses/liverworts;

Panorpidae (common scorpionflies)

  • Head: Slender mandibulate mouth; Threadlike antennae; Prominent round eyes;
  • Thorax: 4 wings, usu spotted/banded, R4 and M4 branched (R2 forked), M 4-branched; two claw tarsi;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Some male have genetailia curved over abdomen like scorpion’s tail; Females have cerci;
  • Misc Anatomy: 9-25mm;
  • Human Impact: Not abundant enough to have impact
  • Habitat: Low shrubs, grasslands, cultivated fields;
  • Diet: Feed on dead/dying insects, rarely nectar;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (624-7) 409

Slender mandibulate mouth; 4 wings, usu spotted/banded, R4 and M4 branched (R2 forked), M 4-branched; Threadlike antennae; Prominent round eyes; two claw tarsi; 9-25mm; Some male have genetailia curved over abdomen like scorpion’s tail; Females have cerci; Not abundant enough to have impact; Low shrubs, grasslands, cultivated fields; Feed on dead/dying insects, rarely nectar;

Table for Distinguishing Mecoptera Families

Coleoptera Quick-ID
Family Name Characteristics
Boreidae Vestigial wings; Darkly colored; Have rostrum;
Panorpidae Female w/ two small cerci, male genitalia looks like scorpion's stinger; Wings banded;

Siphonaptera (fleas)

  • Head: Suctorial, haustellate, adapted for piercing; Antennae small, tuck away into special groves in the head; Lack compound eyes, some- 2 small ocelli;
  • Thorax: Secondarily wingless; Legs long, HL for jumping (can jump 7in), equipped with setae that grip hair & feathers & keep the flea from becoming dislodged by the host’s grooming;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Some female reproductive cycles are triggered by reproductive cycles of female host;
  • Life Cycle: Adults require a blood meal to activate sperm & egg production;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-10mm (usu less than 5mm); Most dark colored; Body bilaterally flattened (an adaptation for moving between hair & feathers); Large bristles (ctenidia) often present on head or thorax (called genal (by head) & pronotal (by pronotum) combs), used to shield delicate membranes, hairs point backwards for ease of movement;
  • Human Impact: Pests & disease vectors, irritating bites, Cat & dog fleas- host for tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) that infects dogs, cats, & humans, Rabbit fleas spread a myxomatosis virus to rabbits, Oriental rat flea- Yersinia (=Pasturella) pestis, the bacterial pathogen for bubonic plague;
  • Habitat: Live on mammals (some birds) throughout world, most in temperate zones; attracted to body heat & carbon dioxide exhaled by potential host;
  • Diet: Parasites, Feed on host’s blood;
  • Explanation of Name: The name Siphonaptera is derived from the Greek words "siphon" meaning a tube or pipe and "aptera" meaning wingless. This is an appropriate appellation for these secondarily wingless insects whose mouthparts are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood.
  • Misc: Can spend a considerable amount of time away from their host;

Suctorial, haustellate, adapted for piercing; Antennae small, tuck away into special groves in the head; Lack compound eyes, some- 2 small ocelli; Secondarily wingless; Legs long, HL for jumping (can jump 7in), equipped with setae that grip hair & feathers & keep the flea from becoming dislodged by the host’s grooming; Adults require a blood meal to activate sperm & egg production;1-10mm (usu less than 5mm); Most dark colored; Body bilaterally flattened (an adaptation for moving between hair & feathers); Large bristles (ctenidia) often present on head or thorax (called genal (by head) & pronotal (by pronotum) combs), used to shield delicate membranes, hairs point backwards for ease of movement; Some female reproductive cycles are triggered by female host; Pests & disease vectors, irritating bites, Cat & dog fleas- host for tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) that infects dogs, cats, & humans, Rabbit fleas spread a myxomatosis virus to rabbits, Oriental rat flea- Yersinia (=Pasturella) pestis, the bacterial pathogen for bubonic plague; Live on mammals (some birds) throughout world, most in temperate zones; Parasites, attracted to body heat & carbon dioxide exhaled by potential host; Feed on host’s blood; ”Siphon”- tube/pipe, “apterea”- no wings; Can spend a considerable amount of time away from their host; The arithmetic flea: Adds to your misery; Subtracts your pleasure; Divides your attention; & multiplies like the devi

Diptera (flies)

  • Head: Suctorial, sponging (haustellate), some piercing; Antennae filiform, stylate, or aristate; Large compound eyes on sides of head, 3 ocelli on top;
  • Thorax: 1 pair of wings, HW reduced to halters (vibrate during flight), some wingless; can hover, fly backwards, turn in place, & even fly upside down to land on a ceiling; Mesothorax larger than pro- or metathorax; All larvae lack legs, adults - 5 seg tarsi;
  • Life Cycle: Immature body forms- Culiciform (Head capsule present with chewing mouthparts, Legs absent, Vermiform (maggots), Without legs or a distinct head capsule, Mouthparts reduced; only present as mouth hooks;
  • Misc Anatomy: .5-40mm;
  • Human Impact: Greatest impact on humans of all insects, some plant pests, disease vectors, others beneficial, pollinators, decomposers;
  • Habitat: Abundant worldwide, Larvae are found in all fresh water, semi-aquatic, & moist terrestrial environments;
  • Diet: Niches vary greatly; Diet variable;
  • Explanation of Name: The name Diptera, derived from the Greek words "di" meaning two and "ptera" meaning wings, refers to the fact that true flies have only a single pair of wings.
  • Misc: Have the highest wing-beat frequency of any animal; arista in the antenna of higher flies is an air speed indicator. It allows the insect to sense how fast it is moving;

Suctorial, sponging (haustellate), some piercing; Antennae filiform, stylate, or aristate; Large compound eyes on sides of head, 3 ocelli on top; 1 pair of wings, HW reduced to halters (vibrate during flight), some wingless; can hover, fly backwards, turn in place, & even fly upside down to land on a ceiling; Mesothorax larger than pro- or metathorax; All larvae lack legs, 5 seg tarsi;.5-40mm; Immature body forms- Culiciform (Head capsule present with chewing mouthparts, Legs absent, Vermiform (maggots), Without legs or a distinct head capsule, Mouthparts reduced; only present as mouth hooks; Greatest impact on humans of all insects, some plant pests, disease vectors, others beneficial, pollinators, decomposers; Abundant worldwide, Larvae are found in all fresh water, semi-aquatic, & moist terrestrial environments; Niches vary greatly; Diet variable; “Di”- two, “ptera”- wing (2 pairs of wings); have the highest wing-beat frequency of any animal; arista in the antenna of higher flies is an air speed indicator. It allows the insect to sense how fast it is moving;

Tipulidae (crane flies)

  • Head: No proboscis (unlike mosquitoes), some have no mouthparts, long rostrum comes to a beak like point called the nasus; Antennae whorled, serrate, or ctenidial, usu 13 or 14-16 seg; Ocelli absent;
  • Thorax: Halteres very prominent, T with 4 or fewer branches, two anal veins reach wing margin; Elongate, stilt-like legs, can come off body (deciduous); Mesonotum with V-shaped suture;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Female’s wings sometimes rudimentary;
  • Life Cycle: Adults short-lived; Males search for females by walking or flying, copulation takes few mins-hours, during flight, female immediately oviposits in wet soil or mats of algae;
  • Misc Anatomy: 10-25mm, wingspan 1-6.5mm; Yellow, brown or grey;
  • Human Impact: Some agriculture pests in Europe, damaging roots & root hairs, larvae important in soil ecosystem, process organic material & increase microbial activity;
  • Habitat: Most diverse in tropics; near water with ample vegetation;
  • Diet: Herbivores/Don’t feed; Some eat nectar & honeydew;
  • Explanation of Name: ‘tipula’- water spider, confused with daddy long legs Larvae called leatherjackets;
  • Misc: Don't bite
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (634) 382, 406 & 407, 408

No proboscis (unlike mosquitoes), some have no mouthparts, long rostrum comes to a beak like point called the nasus; Antennae whorled, serrate, or ctenidial, usu 13 or 14-16 seg; Ocelli absent; Halteres very prominent, T with 4 or fewer branches, two anal veins reach wing margin; Elongate, stilt-like legs, can come off body (deciduous); Mesonotum with V-shaped suture; 10-25mm, wingspan 1-6.5mm; Yellow, brown or grey; Adults short-lived; Female’s wings sometimes rudimentary; Males search 4 females by walking or flying, copulation takes few mins-hours, during flight, female immediately oviposits in wet soil or mats of algae; Some agriculture pests in Europe, damaging roots & root hairs, larvae important in soil ecosystem, process organic material & increase microbial activity; Most diverse in tropics; near water with ample vegetation; Herbivores/Don’t feed; Some eat nectar & honeydew; ‘tipula’- water spider, confused with daddy long legs Larvae called leatherjackets; Don’t bite;

Culicidae (mosquitoes)

  • Head: Female mouth for piercing/sucking skin, Males & Females have proboscis (M- long maxillary palps, F- short); 6+ seg highly plumose (males much more feathery) antennae (detect odors); Eyes distinctly separated, ocelli absent; Head specialized for receiving sensory info & feeding;
  • Thorax: Wings long & narrow, have scales along margins & veins, Males beat wings 450-600x/second, distal part of wing with an unforked vein between two forked veins; Long slender legs; Thorax specialized for locomotion;
  • Abdomen: Abdomen specialized for food digestion & egg development;
  • Life Cycle: Live about a year;
  • Misc Anatomy: 3-15mm; Humpbacked thorax;
  • Human Impact: Pests, MANY diseases, small role as pollinators of flowers; (Things that prey on mosquitoes- mites, damsel/dragonflies, frogs, toads)
  • Diseases Vectored: Viral= yellow fever, dengue fever & chikungunya (Aedes aegypti), Parasitic= Malaria (Anopheles genus females, Plasmodium species), Lymphatic filariasis, West Nile Virus, Eastern equine encephalitis virus, Filaraisis;
  • Habitat: Fresh water habitats worldwide;
  • Diet: Males feed on nectar, females bite skin, need blood meal for eggs, eat blood of mainly vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, some kinds of fish;
  • Niche: Some predators, only females bite, females = ectoparasites;
  • Sociality: Solitary, come together to mate;
  • Explanation of Name: Mosquito is Spanish for small fly
  • Misc: Mostly spring/summer, some overwinter in diapause;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (639) (31 & 32- immatures) 380 & 381, 386, 389, 384, 387, 388, 419

Female mouth for piercing/sucking skin, Males & Females have proboscis (M- long maxillary palps, F- short); 6+ seg highly plumose (males much more feathery) antennae (detect odors); Eyes distinctly separated, ocelli absent; Head specialized for receiving sensory info & feeding; Wings long & narrow, have scales along margins & veins, Males beat wings 450-600x/second, distal part of wing with an unforked vein between two forked veins; Long slender legs; Thorax specialized for locomotion; Abdomen specialized for food digestion & egg development; 3-15mm; Humpbacked thorax; Mostly spring/summer, some overwinter in diapause; Predators of mosquitoes- mites, damsel/dragonflies, frogs, toads; Pests, MANY diseases, small role as pollinators of flowers; Live about a year; Solitary, come together to mate; All diseases—Viral= yellow fever, dengue fever & chikungunya (Aedes aegypti), Parasitic= Malaria (Anopheles genus females, Plasmodium species), Lymphatic filariasis, West Nile Virus, Eastern equine encephalitis virus, Filaraisis; Fresh water habitats worldwide; Some predators, only females bite, females = ectoparasites; Males feed on nectar, females bite skin, need blood meal for eggs, eat blood of mainly vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, some kinds of fish; Spanish for small fly (mosquito); *Mouth brushes used for feeding; Legs absent; Large thorax, segmented abdomen; Breathe @ surface through spiracles on 8th abdominal seg; Dive beneath surface when disturbed Swim by wriggling entire bodies; Aquatic; Freshwater, ponds, pools; Herbivores?; Feed on algae, organic debris; Female needs BLOOD MEAL for eggs; Females bob up & down above water & lay eggs singly/groups; Develop through 4 instars; 5-14 days as eggs; Adult only non-aquatic stage; Pupa hangs from surface of water, very active; Some eggs exhibit diapause (delay development until conditions are right); Called “w(r)igglers because they swim by propulsion with mouth brushes or through jerky movements; PUPA- Comma-shaped, head & thorax merged into a cephalothorax w/ the abdomen curving around underneath, can swim actively by slipping abdomen, called a tumbler, Breathe through a pair of respiratory trumpets on their cephalothoraces, do not feed;

Information about Immatures/Life Cycle of Culicidae

  • Head: Mouth brushes used for feeding;
  • Thorax: Legs absent; Large thorax;
  • Abdomen: segmented abdomen; Breathe @ surface through spiracles on 8th abdominal seg;
  • Life Cycle: Adult only non-aquatic stage;
  • Development: Females bob up & down above water & lay eggs singly/groups; Develop through 4 instars; 5-14 days as eggs; Pupa hangs from surface of water, very active; Some eggs exhibit diapause (delay development until conditions are right);
  • Pupa- Additional Info: Comma-shaped, head & thorax merged into a cephalothorax w/ the abdomen curving around underneath, can swim actively by slipping abdomen, called a tumbler, Breathe through a pair of respiratory trumpets on their cephalothoraces, do not feed;
  • Misc Anatomy: Swim by wriggling entire bodies;
  • Habitat: Freshwater, ponds, pools;
  • Diet: Feed on algae, organic debris; Female needs BLOOD MEAL for eggs;
  • Explanation of Name: Called “w(r)igglers because they swim by propulsion with mouth brushes or through jerky movements;
  • Misc: Dive beneath surface when disturbed

Chironomidae (midges)

  • Head: Chewing mouthparts with short palps, short proboscis; Ocelli absent; Males have plumose antennae;
  • Thorax: Wings long & narrow, without scales; Long slender legs, front tarsi lengthened;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Antennae main diff for males;
  • Life Cycle: Larvae aquatic, many live in tubes constructed in debris, some are red;
  • Misc Anatomy: Lack scales & elongated mouthparts of Culicidae; 1-10mm; Soft bodies;
  • Human Impact: Adults in large numbers pests, damage things with poop, ecological indicators, larvae food for fish;
  • Habitat: Very common; Occur in large swarms near ponds & lakes;
  • Diet: Primary consumers; Some eat particles of organic debris, others shaved wood;
  • Misc: Seen in Early spring-fall;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (645) 379

Chewing mouthparts with short palps, short proboscis; Ocelli absent; Wings long & narrow, without scales; Long slender legs, front tarsi lengthened; Males plumose antennae; 1-10mm; Early spring-fall; Soft bodies; Antennae main diff for males; Adults in large numbers pests, damage things with poop, ecological indicators, larvae food for fish; Lack scales & elongated mouthparts of Culicidae; Larvae aquatic, many live in tubes constructed in debris, some are red; Very common; Occur in large swarms near ponds & lakes; Primary consumers; Some eat particles of organic debris, others shaved wood;

Simuliidae (black flies)

  • Head: Small head; Short 11 seg antennae; Large round compound eyes, no ocelli;
  • Thorax: Wings clear, broad at base, narrowing distally, anterior veins heavy & remaining veins weak, without scales; Short legs;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females serious biters & pests;
  • Life Cycle: May be uni or multi voltine; Larvae- streams in large numbers, attach to objects in the water;;
  • Misc Anatomy: 4 or less mm; Black-various shades of gray/yellow; Humpbacked gnatlike appearance strongly convex;
  • Human Impact: Ecologic indicators, Pests- threat to public health, nuisance, spread cattle diseases; Transmit river blindness (onchoceriasis);
  • Habitat: Have aquatic breeding sights;
  • Diet: Males feed on nectar, females feed on blood (for eggs?);
  • Explanation of Name: AKA buffalo gnats;
  • Misc: Seen in Spring-fall; Attack sunrise/sunset;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (646) Larvae - (48) 416

Wings clear, broad at base, narrowing distally, anterior veins heavy & remaining veins weak, without scales; Short legs; Short 11 seg antennae; Large round compound eyes, no ocelli; 4 or less mm; Black-various shades of gray/yellow; Humpbacked gnatlike appearance strongly convex; Larvae- streams in large numbers, attach to objects in the water; May be uni or multi voltine; Attack sunrise/sunset; Small head; Spring-fall; Females serious biters & pests; Ecologic indicators, Pests- threat to public health, nuisance, spread cattle diseases; Transmit river blindness (onchoceriasis); Have aquatic breeding sights; Males feed on nectar, females feed on blood (for eggs?); AKA buffalo gnats;

Stratiomyidae (soldier flies)

  • Head: Proboscis short, not piercing, maxillary palps 1 or 2 segmented; 3 seg antennae, some aristate, 3rd segment elongate, flagged appearance;
  • Thorax: Wings rest scissor-like across abdomen, Recognized by unique wing venation (branches of R crowded toward anterior part of wing with R5 ending in front of wing tip;
  • Misc Anatomy: 10-15mm; Wide variety of colors/patterns; Somewhat wasplike mimics; Diverse in shape, some wasplike ;
  • Human Impact: Few are sugar cane pests;
  • Habitat: On leaves in sunny forests & flowers;
  • Diet: Scavengers, some eat nothing, aquatic species eat algae;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (650) 519

Proboscis short, not piercing, maxillary palps 1 or 2 segmented; 3 seg antennae, some aristate, 3rd segment elongate, flagged appearance; Wings rest scissor-like across abdomen, Recognized by unique wing venation (branches of R crowded toward anteriot part of wing with R5 ending in front of wing tip; 10-15mm; Wide variety of colors/patterns; Somewhat wasplike mimics; Diverse in shape, some wasplike ; Few sugar cane pests; On leaves in sunny forests & flowers; Scavengers, some eat nothing, aquatic- algae;

Tabanidae (horse flies)

  • Head: Mouth parts for biting, some males lack mandibles used to get blood; Bulging eyes, meet dorsally in male & separated in females, brightly colored/iridescent; 3rd antennal segment elongate;
  • Thorax: Wing veins R4 & R5 fork to form a large 'Y' across the wing tip, very good fliers; Some noisy fliers, others quiet;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Only females suck blood for eggs; Mating done in swarms at hilltops, eggs laid on stones/vegetation close to water, larvae fall into water/moist earth & feed on invertebrates;
  • Life Cycle: Develop as larvae for 1-2 years, live for a few days as adults;
  • Misc Anatomy: 10-25mm; Some have striking colors on eyes; Somewhat stout bodies;
  • Human Impact: Some pollinators, Pests because of biting females; Diseases- equine infectious anaemia virus, parasitic filarial worm Loa loa, anthrax…;
  • Habitat: Adults swamps/ponds, most larvae aquatic common (females seen more), mostly in Florida;
  • Diet: Herbivores, attacked by horse guards wasps; males- flowers & nectar (females only suck blood for eggs);
  • Sociality:
  • Explanation of Name: AKA breeze flies, cleggs, klegs, or clags, deer flies, gadflies, or zimbs
  • Misc: Found in Summer; Large Squamae (scales above halteres, AKA calypters;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (651) 424, 427, 428, 429

Mouth parts for biting, some males lack mandibles used to get blood; Bulging eyes, meet dorsally in male & separated in females, brightly colored/iridescent; 3rd antennal segment elongate; Wing veins R4 & R5 fork to form a large 'Y' across the wing tip, very good fliers; Some noisy fliers, others quiet; Develop as larvae for 1-2 years, live for a few days as adults; 10-25mm; Some have striking colors on eyes; Somewhat stout bodies; Summer; Only females suck blood for eggs; Mating done in swarms at hilltops, eggs laid on stones/vegetation close to water, larvae fall into water/moist earth & feed on invertebrates; Large Squamae (scales above halteres, AKA calypters) Some pollinators, Pests because of biting females; Diseases- equine infectious anaemia virus, parasitic filarial worm Loa loa, anthrax…; Adults swamps/ponds, most larvae aquatic common (females seen more), mostly in Florida; Herbivores, attacked by horse guards wasps; males- flowers & nectar (females only suck blood for eggs); AKA breeze flies, cleggs, klegs, or clags, deer flies, gadflies, or zimbs

Asilidae (robber flies)

  • Head: Stylate mouthparts, short, stout proboscis enclosing the sharp, sucking hypopharynx; Antennae aristate, 3-5 seg, 3rd seg elongate bearing a short terminal style; 3 simple eyes, 2 compound; Top of head depressed between eyes, face has mustache (mystax), head free-moving;
  • Thorax: Wings well-developed, narrow; Stout, spiny strong legs; thorax relatively large;
  • Abdomen: Abdomen shape = long & slender to robust, usu tapered;
  • Misc Anatomy: 5-30mm; Brown, black, gray; Integument covered with thick hair; Elongated;
  • Habitat: Dry open habitats, larvae in soil or decaying wood;
  • Diet: Predators (perch & pounce on prey); Other insects;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA assassin flies, robber flies = aggressive predation, ambush their prey;
  • Misc: Found in Summer; Bee mimics;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (658) 349, 398, 400, 401, 501

Stylate mouthparts, short, stout proboscis enclosing the sharp, sucking hypopharynx; Antennae aristate, 3-5 seg, 3rd seg elongate bearing a short terminal style; 3 simple eyes, 2 compound; Top of head depressed between eyes, face has mustache (mystax), head free-moving; Wings well-developed, narrow; Stout, spiny strong legs; thorax relatively large; Abdomen shape = long & slender to robust, usu tapered; 5-30mm; Brown, black, gray; Integument covered with thick hair; Elongated; Summer; Dry open habitats, larvae in soil or decaying wood; Predators (perch & pounce on prey); Other insects; Bee mimics, AKA assassin flies, robber flies = aggressive predation, ambush their prey;

Bombyliidae (bee flies)

  • Head: Mouthparts for sucking/feeding on flowers, long proboscis, don’t bite; Head w/ convex face; Antennae 3-6 seg aristate, 3rd seg variable in shape; Large eyes, touch at top;
  • Thorax: Wings have dark markings & held outstretched at rest, powerful, M1 ends behind wing tip, 3-4 posterior cells, distal cell present, anal cell open or closed near wing margin; Legs without bristles & slender, long & then, FL smaller & more slender than middle & rear legs;
  • Misc Anatomy: 4-40mm; integument is covered with dense & abundant hair; Brightly colored; Stout-bodied & hairy;
  • Human Impact: Important pollinators, harmless;
  • Habitat: Females hover over host’s nest, Some found in sandy soil laying eggs;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Larvae parasitoids of other insects, adults eat nectar/pollen;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (662) 495, 496, 512 & 514, 515 & 516

Mouthparts for sucking/feeding on flowers, long proboscis, don’t bite; Wings have dark markings & held outstretched at rest, powerful, M1 ends behind wing tip, 3-4 posterior cells, distal cell present, anal cell open or closed near wing margin; Head w/ convex face; Legs without bristles & slender, long & then, FL smaller & more slender than middle & rear legs; Antennae 3-6 seg aristate, 3rd seg variable in shape; Large eyes, touch at top; 4-40mm; integument is covered with dense & abundant hair; Brightly colored; Stout-bodied & hairy; Important pollinators, harmless; Females hover over host’s nest, Some found in sandy soil laying eggs; Herbivores; Larvae parasitoids of other insects, adults eat nectar/pollen;

Syrphidae (flower flies)

  • Head: Short fleshy mouthparts with tube at end & sponging mechanism; Large eyes;
  • Thorax: Wing vein bisects bisects r-m crossvein, HW modified, spurious vein usu present between R & M, R5 & M2 cell closed, anal cell long, closed near wing margin;
  • Abdomen: Some wag up abdomens when landing;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females larger;
  • Life Cycle: Overwinter in cold climates;
  • Misc Anatomy: 10-20mm; Brightly colored with spots, stripes, & bands of yellow or brown covering body;
  • Human Impact: Some larvae cause bulb damage, some pollinators, others eat aphids, some pest control;
  • Habitat: Found on flowers, common; Only active on warm sunny days;
  • Diet: Herbivores, Preyed on by frogs, turtles, spiders, mantids, water boatmen, wasps, ladybugs, lacewings, larvae break down dead plants; Feed on nectar & aphid honeydew;
  • Sociality: Solitary;
  • Misc: Can continue to make vibration noise by moving structures in their thorax even when they are not moving or flapping wings; Bee mimics (Batesian Mimicry), do not bite or sting;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (667) 454, 487, 488, 504, 507, 508

Short fleshy mouthparts with tube at end & sponging mechanism; Large eyes; Wing vein bisects bisects r-m crossvein, HW modified, spurious vein usu present between R & M, R5 & M2 cell closed, anal cell long, closed near wing margin; Some wag up abdomens when landing; 10-20mm; Brightly colored with spots, stripes, & bands of yellow or brown covering body; Can continue to make vibration noise by moving structures in their thorax even when they are not moving or flapping wings; Bee mimics (Batesian Mimicry), do not bite or sting; Overwinter in cold climates; Females larger; Solitary; Some larvae cause bulb damage, some pollinators, others eat aphids, some pest control; Herbivores, Preyed on by frogs, turtles, spiders, mantids, water boatmen, wasps, ladybugs, lacewings, larvae break down dead plants; Feed on nectar & aphid honeydew; Found on flowers, common; Only active on warm sunny days;

Tephritidae (fruit flies, huskfly)

  • Head: Head hemispherical & short, face is vertical or retreating & the frons is broad; Have ocelli & cellar bristles;
  • Thorax: Most wings spotted/banded, Apex of Sc bent abruptly forward at almost a right angle & usu not quite reaching costa, anal cell with an acute distal projection posteriorly;
  • Misc Anatomy: 2.5–10 mm; Brightly colored & visibly showy (courtship or for defensive); Lack stingers;
  • Human Impact: Many bad fruit pests, others destroy weeds, most agriculturally important flies;
  • Habitat: Adults found on host plant or feeding on other food;
  • Diet: Herbivores, most larvae phytophagous; Pollen, nectar, rotting plant debris or honeydew;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA Picture winged flies, peacock flies;
  • Misc: Some use Batesian Mimicry (bearing the colors & markings of dangerous arthropods such as wasps or jumping spiders);
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (674) 435, 436 & 509

Most wings spotted/banded, Apex of Sc bent abruptly forward at almost a right angle & usu not quite reaching costa, anal cell with an acute istal projection posteriorly; Head hemispherical & short, face is vertical or retreating & the frons is broad; Have ocelli & cellar bristles; 2.5–10 mm; Brightly colored & visibly showy (courtship or for defensive); Lack stingers; Many bad fruit pests, others destroy weeds, most agriculturally important flies; Some use Batesian Mimicry (bearing the colors & markings of dangerous arthropods such as wasps or jumping spiders); Adults found on host plant or feeding on other food; Herbivores, most larvae phytophagous; Pollen, nectar, rotting plant debris or honeydew; AKA Picture winged flies, peacock flies;

Drosophilidae (pomace flies)

  • Head: Eyes usu red;
  • Thorax: Wing veins- Sc incomplete, Costa broken near end of R1 & near humeral cross vein;
  • Misc Anatomy: 2.5-4.5 mm; Usu yellowish/brownish;
  • Human Impact: Nuisance flies, most breed in rotting fruit, some serious economic pests, can mess up alcohol aging process (turning into vinegar), used in genetic studies (Several genes have been identified that can be manipulated to extend the lifespan);
  • Habitat: Usually around decaying vegetation & fruit; Common;
  • Diet: Scavengers?; Eat decaying fruit & fungi, sap & nectar;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA Vinegar flies;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (678) 433

Eyes usu red; Sc incomplete, Costa broken near end of R1 & near humeral cross vein; 2.5-4.5 mm; Usu yellowish/brownish; Nuisance flies, most breed in rotting fruit, some serious economic pests, can mess up alcohol aging process (turning into vinegar), used in genetic studies (Several genes have been identified that can be manipulated to extend the lifespan); Usually around decaying vegetation & fruit; Common; Scavengers?; Eat decaying fruit & fungi, sap & nectar; AKA Vinegar flies;

Muscidae (house flies)

  • Head: Antennae 3 seg aristate, arista plumose for entire length;
  • Thorax: Wing Veins- Vein 2A is short & does not reach the wing margin, R5 cell parallel sided or narrowed distally;
  • Life Cycle: Overwinter larval or pupal stage under manure piles or in other protected locations; Larvae occur in various habitats including decaying vegetation, dry & wet soil, nests of insects & birds, fresh water, & carrion;
  • Misc Anatomy: 5-15mm; Underside of scutellum without fine hairs, more than one sternopleural bristle;
  • Human Impact: Pests; Vector typhoid fever, dysentery, anthrax, African sleeping sickness, cholera ;
  • Habitat: Hog & poultry farms, horse stables, & ranches;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA horse or stable flies; Housefly = Musca domestica;
  • Misc: Attracted to sugar, sweat, tears;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (681) 421, 426

Vein 2A is short & does not reach the wing margin, R5 cell parallel sided or narrowed distally; Antennae 3 seg aristate, arista plumose for entire length; 5-15mm; Pests; Underside of scutellum without fine hairs, more than one sternopleural bristle; Larvae occur in various habitats including decaying vegetation, dry & wet soil, nests of insects & birds, fresh water, & carrion; Overwinter larval or pupal stage under manure piles or in other protected locations; Vector typhoid fever, dysentery, anthrax, African sleeping sickness, cholera ; Hog & poultry farms, horse stables, & ranches; Attracted to sugar, sweat, tears; AKA horse or stable flies; Housefly = Musca domestica;

Hippoboscidae (louse flies)

  • Head: Palps slender, elongate, forming a sheath for proboscis; Well-developed compound eyes;
  • Thorax: Legs thick & outstretched; Some winged, fly decent, when present strong veins anteriorly & weak veins posteriorly;
  • Life Cycle: larval development takes place within the mother's body, & pupation occurs almost immediately, mature larvae is born alive;
  • Misc Anatomy: 5-6mm??; Reddish brown; Leathery, flattened;
  • Human Impact: Transmit no diseases
  • Habitat: Most are found on birds, others on mammals;
  • Diet: Ectoparasites of sheep; Suck blood,
  • Explanation of Name: Greek hippos 'horse' + bosco 'feed', AKA keds;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (683) 418, 73

Palps slender, elongate, forming a sheath for proboscis; Well-developed compound eyes; Legs thick & outstretched; Some winged, fly decent, when present strong veins anteriorly & weak veins posteriorly; 5-6mm??; Reddish brown; larval development takes place within the mother's body, & pupation occurs almost immediately, mature larvae is born alive; Leathery, flattened; Ectoparasites of sheep; No diseases, suck blood, parasites; Most are found on birds, others on mammals; Parasites; Greek hippos 'horse' + bosco 'feed', AKA keds;

Calliphoridae (blow flies)

  • Head: Sponging mouthparts; Antennae 3 seg aristate, arista plumose;
  • Misc Anatomy: Shiny with metallic coloring (blue/green); Postscutellum absent; Have two notopleural bristles & a hindmost posthumeral bristle;
  • Human Impact: Used in forensics, first to approach carrion; Pests to sheep & livestock (myasis), forensic importance- first insects to come in contact w/ carrion because smell it; Vector- dysentery, rabbit haemorrhagic disease, Salmonellosis;
  • Habitat: Temperate/ tropical areas that provide loose layer of soil;
  • Diet: Scavengers or parasites;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA carrion flies, bluebottles, greenbottles, or cluster flies; ‘Blow’ links back so Shakespeare;
  • Misc: Can smell from 1 mi. away; Preyed on by spiders, beetles, frogs, chicken;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (684) 430, 431, 432

Sponging mouthparts; Antennae 3 seg aristate, arista plumose; Shiny with metallic coloring (blue/green); Postscutellum absent; Have two notopleural bristles & a hindmost posthumeral bristle; Can smell from 1 mi. away; Used in forensics, first to approach carrion; Pests to sheep & livestock (myasis), forensic importance- first insects to come in contact w/ carrion because smell it; Vector- dysentery, rabbit haemorrhagic disease, Salmonellosis; Scavengers or parasites; AKA carrion flies, bluebottles, greenbottles, or cluster flies, Preyed on by spiders, beetles, frogs, chicken; Temperate/ tropical areas that provide loose layer of soil; Scavengers/parasites; ‘Blow’ links back so Shakespeare; *Eggs hatch in 6-48 hrs, whitish or yellow in color, look like rice balls, 1.5mm x 0.4 mm, lay 150-200/batch; Larvae have 3 stages, separated by molts; Pupa takes 7-14 days; Scavengers of carrion & dung; Larvae thrive in damp soil & litter; Called maggots; Females require substantial protein to produce eggs;

Information about Immatures/Life Cycle for Calliphoridae

  • Development: Eggs hatch in 6-48 hrs, whitish or yellow in color, look like rice balls, 1.5mm x 0.4 mm, lay 150-200/batch; Larvae have 3 stages, separated by molts; Pupa takes 7-14 days; ; Females require substantial protein to produce eggs;
  • Explanation of Name: Called maggots;
  • Misc: Scavengers of carrion & dung; Larvae thrive in damp soil & litter

Tachinidae (tachinid flies)

  • Head: Antennae 3 seg aristate, arista usu bare;
  • Thorax: Wing veins- R5 cell narrowed or closed distally;
  • Abdomen: Abdomen covered in bristles, have a subscutellum;
  • Misc Anatomy: 2-20mm; Some brightly colored, others drab; Stocky, more robust than blow flies;
  • Human Impact: Pest control, some pollinators;
  • Habitat: Found anywhere, abundant on sunny hilltops looking for mates;
  • Diet: Larvae parasitic, adults feed on nectar or don’t feed;
  • Misc: 2nd largest among diptera; Postscutellum developed; Active flies;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (688) 422 &423, 437, 438, 439, 485, 500

Antennae 3 seg aristate, arista usu bare; R5 cell narrowed or closed distally; 2-20mm; Some brightly colored, others drab; Stocky, more robust than blow flies; Abdomen covered in bristles, have a subscutellum; Postscutellum developed; Active flies; 2nd largest among diptera; Pest control, some pollinators; Found anywhere, abundant on sunny hilltops looking for mates; Larvae parasitic, adults feed on nectar or don’t feed;

Table for Distinguishing Diptera Families

Diptera Quick-ID
Family Name Characteristics
Tipulidae Long legs; Visible Halteres: V on mesonotum;
Culicidae Wings larger than body; Male w/ plumose antennae;
Chironomidae Hold FW off ground; Very plumose antennae; No proboscis;
Simuliidae Humpbacked; Wings not heavily veined; Gray or yellow;
Stratiomyidae Wings fold over abdomen when at rest; Flagged antennae; Thin; Wasp mimics;
Tabanidae Very large eyes, take up most of head, can be green; Thick;
Asilidae "Beard" on face; Tapering antennae; Slender abdomen; Deep depression between eyes;
Bombyliidae Hairy; Hold wings outstretched; Proboscis long and visible;
Syrphidae Not hairy; Abdomen colored black/yellow like bees; Wing has spurious vein;
Tephritidae Patterned wings (males use them for defense or courtship); Colorful eyes;
Drosophilidae Red eyes; Yellowish body;
Muscidae Thorax lightly striped;
Hippoboscidae Thick legs; Dark brown; Flattened;
Calliphoridae Metallic (blue/green);
Tachinidae Prominent postscutellum; Very hairy;

Trichoptera (caddisflies)

  • Head: Sucking-lapping mouthparts have reduced mandibles & well-developed maxillary palps; Antennae long, tapering, filiform, slender, longer or as long as the body, positioned close together & directed forward; Some have ocelli;
  • Thorax: Wings- 4 membranous, FW usually dark, sturdy, sometimes with striking color patterns, held tightly together roof-like over the abdomen when at rest, HW clear, relatively delicate, & hidden under forewings when at rest, covered in hairs (distinctive); Slow, clumsy fliers;
  • Misc Anatomy: 1.5-40mm; Most dull colored, few remarkably colored; Hairy bumps called setal warts found on head & thorax, usually have hairlike setae on body & wings (in contrast, moths have flattened scales);
  • Human Impact: Larvae food for game fish, some adults pests (in rice paddies), some indicator, most not important;
  • Habitat: Nocturnal, not too common; During day, hide in cool shady places near water, attracted to light; Most nocturnal, spend days in cool, moist environments along edges of bodies of water, attracted to light;
  • Diet: Many don’t feed (if they do- nectar or sap, algae);
  • Explanation of Name: The name Trichoptera, derived from the Greek words "trichos" meaning hair and "ptera" meaning wings, refers to the long, silky hairs that cover most of the body and wings.
  • Misc: Adults fly April-November; found in rocks dating back to the Triassic;

Sucking-lapping mouthparts have reduced mandibles & well-developed maxillary palps; Antennae long, tapering, filiform, slender, longer or as long as the body, positioned close together & directed forward; Some have ocelli; Wings- 4 membranous, FW usually dark, sturdy, sometimes with striking color patterns, held tightly together roof-like over the abdomen when at rest, HW clear, relatively delicate, & hidden under forewings when at rest, covered in hairs (distinctive); Slow, clumsy fliers; 1.5-40mm; Most dull colored, few remarkably colored; Adults fly April- November; Hairy bumps called setal warts found on head & thorax, usually have hairlike setae on body & wings (moths have flattened scales); Larvae food for game fish, some adults pests (in rice paddies), some indicator, most not important; Nocturnal, not too common; During day, hide in cool shady places near water, attracted to light; Many don’t feed (if they do- nectar or sap, algae); Most nocturnal, spend days in cool, moist environments along edges of bodies of water, attracted to light; “Trichos”- hair, “Ptera”- wings; found in rocks dating back to the Triassic; *Mandibulate mouth, well-developed head; One pair of hooked prolegs often present at tip of abdomen; Dorsal plates across the back of the first or all thoracic segments; Abdomen membranous, last abdominal segment has a pair of anal prolegs that end in sharp claws used to grasp a substrate; Thread-like abdominal gills in case-makers; Eruciform (caterpillar-like) body; Adults equipped mainly to mate; Larvae herbivores, scavengers, predators; Most aquatic, living in ponds, lakes, streams; Good indicators of water quality; Males transfer sperm/ sperm packet directly to female, may mate with more than 1 female, in streamside vegetation/ground, attract eachother with pheromones; Some eggs in water/on plants; Make silk & build a “case” for development, made of stones, leaves, twigs…, pupates & grow inside case (five basic types of cases- free living forms construct shelters only for pupation, saddle-case makers build cases resembling turtle shells & carry them wherever they go, Purse-case makers are free-living until the final instar, at which they build mobile silken, purselike, or barrel-like cases, net-spinners build fixed, silken retreats on rocky bottoms of swift streams that have a net for catching prey; Within a year, 6-7 instars;

Information about Immatures/Life Cycle

  • Head: Mandibulate mouth, well-developed head;
  • Thorax: Dorsal plates across the back of the first or all thoracic segments;
  • Abdomen: One pair of hooked prolegs often present at tip of abdomen; Abdomen membranous, last abdominal segment has a pair of anal prolegs that end in sharp claws used to grasp a substrate; Thread-like abdominal gills in case-makers;
  • Misc Anatomy: Eruciform (caterpillar-like) body;
  • Diet: Larvae herbivores, scavengers, predators;
  • Habitat: Most aquatic, living in ponds, lakes, streams;
  • Human Impact: Good indicators of water quality;
  • Mating: Adults equipped mainly to mate; Males transfer sperm/ sperm packet directly to female, may mate with more than 1 female, in streamside vegetation/ground, attract eachother with pheromones;
  • Development: Some eggs in water/on plants; Make silk & build a “case” for development, made of stones, leaves, twigs…, pupates & grow inside case (five basic types of cases- free living forms construct shelters only for pupation, saddle-case makers build cases resembling turtle shells & carry them wherever they go, Purse-case makers are free-living until the final instar, at which they build mobile silken, purselike, or barrel-like cases, net-spinners build fixed, silken retreats on rocky bottoms of swift streams that have a net for catching prey;
  • Cycle Length: Within a year, 6-7 instars;

Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths)

  • Head: Mouthparts form a coiled tube (proboscis) beneath the head (sucking); Butterflies have knobs/hooks at end of antennae; (Moths have Thread-like, spindle-like, comb-like (usu feathery) antennae); All have 2 compound eyes & chaetosema (raised spots or clusters of sensory bristles unique to Lepidoptera);
  • Thorax: Wings- 4 membranous, covered with scales, FW large, triangular, HW large, fan-shaped; Legs vary, some have sensory receptors
  • Life Cycle: Larvae Eruciform (caterpillar-like);
  • Misc Anatomy: Moths = Bland, drab colors, Butterflies usually brightly colored; Body & wings covered in small, overlapping scales;
  • Human Impact: Many beautiful & valuable in trade, caterpillars create TONS of plant damage;
  • Habitat: Adults present wherever flowers are;
  • Diet: Many suck nectar/pollinate; Larvae herbivores;
  • Explanation of Name: The name Lepidoptera, derived from the Greek words "lepido" for scale and "ptera" for wings, refers to the flattened hairs (scales) that cover the body and wings of most adults.
  • Misc: Active year-round;

Mouthparts form a coiled tube (proboscis) beneath the head (sucking); Knobs/hooks at end of antennae; 2 compound eyes & chaetosema (raised spots or clusters of sensory bristles unique to Lepidoptera); Wings- 4 membranous, covered with scales, FW large, triangular, HW large, fan-shaped; Legs vary, some have sensory receptors; Larvae Eruciform (caterpillarlike); Thread-like, spindle-like, comb-like (usu feathery), Bland, drab colors, Usu bright colored; Body & wings covered in small, overlapping scales; Adults present wherever flowers are, many everywhere year-round; Many beautiful & valuable in trade, caterpillars create TONS of plant damage; Common worldwide; Larvae herbivores; Many suck nectar/pollinate; “Lepido”- scale (scaled wings); Sometimes divided into 3 groups- butterflies (thin antennae with "knobs" on the end & are generally active during the day, They rest with their wings closed above their bodies, & make a naked pupa also known as a chrysalis.), moths (feathery antennae & most are active at night. They generally rest with their wings open, either flat or "tented" over the body. When they pupate above ground they generally form a protective cocoon around the pupa), skippers (separate group of butterflies, with many distinctive features. They are (mostly) day-flying, have knobbed antennae, & rest with wings folded or spread, depending on the group); Lepidopterans are sometimes divided into three "subgroups". The characteristics of these "subgroups" are outlined in the table below.

Lepidoptera Groups
Groups Name Antenna Type Time Active Wing Resting Position Pupal Form
Butterflies Thin antennae with "knobs" on the end Generally active during the day They rest with their wings closed above their bodies make a naked pupa also known as a chrysalis
Skippers (subgroup of butterflies but w/ many distinctive traits) Knobbed antennae (mostly) day-flying & rest with wings folded or spread, depending on the group Presumably same as butterflies
Moths Feathery antennae Night They generally rest with their wings open, either flat or "tented" over the body When they pupate above ground they generally form a protective cocoon around the pupa

Sesiidae (clear-winged moths)

  • Head: Simple antennae;
  • Thorax: Wings transparent because of lack of scales, FW long, narrow, rounded apically, HW broader, posterior margin of FW & costal margin of HW w/ a series of interlocking spines, Anal wing veins conspicuous in HW, reduced in FW; Tiny yellow-tipped tufts on legs for carrying pollen;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females emit strong sex pheromones to attract males; Males have more clear area in wings than female;
  • Life Cycle: Eggs deposited singly on host plant, larvae quickly bore into host, pupation takes place the following season; Most have a 2 year life;
  • Misc Anatomy: Resemble bees in markings/ coloration (Batesian Mimicry);
  • Human Impact: Some pests of fruit-tree or timber cultivation, larvae wood borers, (People often use fake pheromones to attract pest species);
  • Habitat: Diurnal or crepuscular; Throughout world, except in coldest climates;
  • Diet: Larvae feed on host plants, adults feed on nectar or nothing @ all;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (709) 443, 447, 473, 570

Simple antennae; Wings transparent because of lack of scales, FW long, narrow, rounded apically, HW broader, posterior margin of FW & costal margin of HW w/ a series of interlocking spines, Anal wing veins conspicuous in HW, reduced in FW; Tiny yellow-tipped tufts on legs for carrying pollen; Resemble bees in markings/ coloration (Batesian Mimicry); Females emit strong sex pheromones to attract males; Males have more clear area in wings than female; Eggs deposited singly on host plant, larvae quickly bore into host, pupation takes place the following season; Most 2 year life; Some pests of fruit-tree or timber cultivation, larvae wood borers, (People often use fake pheromones to attract pest species); Diurnal or crepuscular; Throughout world, except in coldest climates; Larvae feed on host plants, adults feed on nectar or nothing @ all;

Tortricidae (Tortricid moths)

  • Thorax: Rest w/ wings folded back like a shield, square tipped FW, Cu in HW lacking fringe of long hairs, R4 & R5 in FW usu stalked or fused & M2 & M3 & Cu1 parallel or divergent;
  • Life Cycle: Larvae are leaf roller or leaf tiers, some tie a number of leaves together with silk & feed inside the shelter it forms;
  • Misc Anatomy: Tan, yellow, gray, or black & white
  • Human Impact: Many fruit pests, (Codling moth- apples & pears), some defoliate trees;
  • Explanation of Name: ; AKA leafroller moths, tortrix moths;

Rest w/ wings folded back like a shield, square tipped FW, Cu in HW lacking fringe of long hairs, R4 & R5 in FW usu stalked or fused & M2 & M3 & Cu1 parallel or divergent; Larvae are leaf roller or leaf tiers, some tie a number of leaves together with silk & feed inside the shelter it forms; Tan, yellow, gray, or black & white; Many fruit pests, (Codling moth- apples & pears), some defoliate trees; AKA leafroller moths, tortrix moths;

Hesperiidae (skippers)

  • Head: Short antennae end in thick hooks; Large compound eyes; Head as wide or wider than thorax;
  • Thorax: Small, pointed wings, HW rest flat while FW held slightly open @ an angle; 3 pairs functional walking legs, hind tibae with 2 pairs of spurs; Quick fliers, ‘skipping’ erratic flight; Strong wing muscles in plump thorax;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Males smaller, some have blackish streak or patch of scent scales in FW;
  • Life Cycle: Live for year or less, eggs tiny & dome shaped;
  • Misc Anatomy: Wingspan usu less than 30mm; Mostly orange/brown; Distinctive “collar” (narrow ring around the body right behind head); Short fat hairy bodes;
  • Human Impact: Little interaction w/ human;
  • Habitat: Live in meadows & edges of woods; Only active during the day, caterpillars feed when its dark or partly light;
  • Diet: Most eat grasses, some shrubs & trees, many groups limited to single group of food plants;
  • Misc: Communicate via sight/scent; Preyed on by: insect eating birds, mantids, ants, wasps, parasitic flies, ladybugs;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (715) 9&574, 575, 606

Short antennae end in thick hooks; Large compound eyes; Head as wide or sider than thorax; Small, pointed wings, HW rest flat while FW held slightly open @ an angle; 3 pairs functional walking legs, hind tibae with 2 pairs of spurs; Quick fliers, ‘skipping’ erratic flight; Strong wing muscles in plump thorax; Wingspan usu les than 30mm; Live for year or less, eggs tiny & dome shaped; Mostly orange/brown; Distinctive “collar” (narrow ring around the body right behind head); Communicate via sight/scent; Little interaction w/ human; Short fat hairy bodes; Males smaller, some have blackish streak or patch of scent scales in FW; Live in meadows & edges of woods; Only active during the day, caterpillars feed when its dark or partly light; Preyed on by: insect eating birds, mantids, ants, wasps, parasitic flies, ladybugs; Most eat grasses, some shrubs & trees, many groups limited to single group of food plants;

Papilionidae (swallowtails)

  • Thorax: FLs well developed, 3 pairs walking; Some have eyespots on wings; Sclerites of the cervix are fused beneath the neck where the muscles for head movement are anchored;
  • Wing Venation: Characteristic tails on HW, FW with R 5 branched, Cu appearing 4 branched, HW with one anal vein, 2A extends up to wing margin & does not link with the first anal vein;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females larger, sexes shaped differently;
  • Misc Anatomy: ~15cm wingspan; Black w/yellow or white markings, also blue/red; Practice Batesian Mimicry;
  • Human Impact: Some garden pests, most are valued for beauty;
  • Habitat: Fly in open areas near food plants;
  • Diet: Sip nectar;
  • Sociality: Solitary
  • Explanation of Name: Named for tails on wings;
  • Misc: Preyed on by: shrews, mice, frogs & toads, ants, wasps, mantids, parasitic flies, mites, lacewings;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (718) 576, 578, 580&22, 583, 584, 591, 593, 594,

Sclerites of the cervix are fused beneath the neck where the muscles for head movement are anchored; Characteristic tails on HW, FW with R 5 branched, Cu appearing 4 branched, HW with one anal vein, 2A extends up to wing margin & does not link with the first anal vein; FLs well developed, 3 pairs walking; Some have eyespots on wings; ~15cm wingspan; Black w/yellow or white markings, also blue/red, some w/ eyespots; Practice Batesian Mimicry; Females larger, sexes shaped differently; Some garden pests, most valued; Preyed on by: shrews, mice, frogs & toads, ants, wasps, mantids, parasitic flies, mites, lacewings; Fly in open areas near food plants; Solitary; Sip nectar; Named for tails on wings; *Have antennae-like structures that emit chemicals; Smooth-bodied; Second seg of caterpillar has transverse opening; Large; Hidden dorsal projection ‘horn’ under thorax skin, called osmeterium, used for defense; Found on their food plants; Eggs dome-shaped; Pupa green/brown, usu curved backwards; Chrysalis; Males attract females w/ pheromones;

Information about Immatures/Life Cycle of Papilionidae

  • Anatomy: Have antennae-like structures that emit chemicals; Smooth-bodied; Second seg of caterpillar has transverse opening; Large; Hidden dorsal projection ‘horn’ under thorax skin, called osmeterium, used for defense;
  • Habitat: Found on their food plants;
  • Mating/Development: Eggs dome-shaped; Pupa green/brown, usu curved backwards; Chrysalis; Males attract females w/ pheromones;

Pieridae (whites, sulfurs)

  • Thorax: Well-developed FL (all walking legs), tarsal claws forked; Recognized by white/Yellow wings w/ dark markings,
  • Wing Venation: FW with Cu appearing 3 branched, R 3 or 4 branched, M1 stalked with a branch of R for a distance beyond distal cell, HW with two anal veins;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Female larger;
  • Life Cycle: Do not make a cocoon, do not attach themselves to plants w/ silk threads; Males attract mates with scent & display, & females leave a scent mark on plants where they have laid eggs; Live for a year or less; Usu overwinter, may be more than one generation per year;
  • Misc Anatomy: White or yellow w/ dark markings (UV markings on wings for courtship & ID’ing species), cooler temps make darker colors;
  • Human Impact: Some major crop pests, many pollinators, some caterpillars eat weeds;
  • Habitat: Anywhere that has food plants, adults hide @ night;
  • Diet: Sip nectar & mud;
  • Sociality: Solitary;
  • Misc: Preyed on by: mice, frogs & toads, spiders, ants, mantids, mites, lacewings;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (724) 579, 581, 582&21, 589, 590, 592

Recognized by white/Yellow wings w/ dark markings, FW with Cu appearing 3 branched, R 3 or 4 branched, M1 stalked with a branch of R for a distance beyond distal cell, HW with two anal veins; Well-developed FL (all walking legs), tarsal claws forked; Live for a year or less; Do not make a cocoon, do not attach themselves to plants w/ silk threads; Males attract mates with scent & display, & females leave a scent mark on plants where they have laid eggs; White or yellow w/ dark markings (UV markings on wings for courtship & ID’ing species), cooler temps make darker colors; Usu overwinter, may be more than one generation per year; Solitary; Female larger; Some major crop pests, many pollinators, some caterpillars eat weeds; Anywhere that has food plants, adults hide @ night; Sip nectar & mud; Preyed on by: mice, frogs & toads, spiders, ants, mantids, mites, lacewings;

Lycaenidae (hairstreaks/blue butterflies)

  • Head: Antennae usu banded, clubbed, knobbed, or clavate;
  • Thorax: Some have eyespots on wings; Rapid fliers; Some have slight tails on wings; Males FL reduced, females use FL for walking;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Female larger, male more colorful, different legs;
  • Life Cycle: Live for a year or less;
  • Misc Anatomy: Adults usu under 5cm, wingspan less than 2in; Most have shiny blue on wings; Small & delicate;
  • Human Impact: A few damage crops, not abundant enough to cause much damage;
  • Habitat: Forest edges, open fields, streams…; Only fly in daylight, fly only short distance, some caterpillars only feed @ night;
  • Diet: Pollinators, mutualists w/ ants (ants care for larvae, get honeydew from butterflies); Some eat nectar/leaves, one species aphid predators;
  • Sociality: Rely on ants for protection against predators, including shrews, mice, frogs & toads, spiders, ants, wasps, mantids, parasitic flies, ladybugs, lacewings;
  • Misc: Communicate with scent markings & colors, males attract mates with scent & display;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (729) 577, 586, 587, 588, 595, 601, 604, 605, 609, 616, 627

Antennae usu banded, clubbed, knobbed, or clavate; Some have eyespots on wings; Rapid fliers; Some have slight tails on wings; Males FL reduced, females use FL for walking; Adults usu under 5cm, wingspan less than 2in; Live for a year or less; Most have shiny blue on wings; Small & delicate; Rely on ants for protection against predators, including shrews, mice, frogs & toads, spiders, ants, wasps, mantids, parasitic flies, ladybugs, lacewings; Female larger, male more colorful, different legs; A few damage crops, not abundant enough to cause much damage; Forest edges, open fields, streams…; Only fly in daylight, fly only short distance, some caterpillars only feed @ night; Pollinators, mutualists w/ ants (ants care for larvae, get honeydew from butterflies); Some eat nectar/leaves, one species aphid predators; Communicate with scent markings & colors, males attract mates with scent & display;

Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies)

  • Thorax: FL modified into ‘brushes’ of hair sometimes used to smell/taste;
  • Wings: Wings held flat while resting, wing shape highly irregular, colorful, some camouflaged, FW broad & triangular, R 5-branched, Cu appearing 3 branched & 3A lacking, HW with 2 anal veins, humeral vein straight or bent toward wing tip, distal cell open or closed by a weak vein, no veins greatly swollen @ base;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Sexes shaped differently;
  • Life Cycle: Females lay several hundred eggs, some lay eggs in clusters, no parental care;
  • Misc Anatomy: Size greatly variable; Wings colorful, sometimes camouflaged, underside of wings is drab for camouflage;
  • Human Impact: No real human impact, some caterpillars give rashes;
  • Habitat: Found in any habitat w/ plants;
  • Diet: Herbivores, preyed on by mantids, mice, ants, wasps, ladybirds, lacewings; Eat many types of flowers/plants…;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA 4 footed butterflies;
  • Misc: Breeding season- Late Spring, Summer, and/or early Fall;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (739) 585, 596+11, 607+1, 608, 610, 611, 612, 614+3, 615+7, 617, 618, 619, 621, 623, 624, 625+2

Wings held flat while resting, wing shape highly irregular, colorful, some camouflaged, FW broad & triangular, R 5-branched, Cu appearing 3 branched & 3A lacking, HW with 2 nal veins, humeral vein straight or bent toward wing tip, distal cell open or closed by a weak vein, no veins greatly swollen @ base; FL modified into ‘brushes’ of hair sometimes used to smell/taste; Size greatly variable; Females lay several hundred eggs, some lay eggs in clusters, no parental care; Wings colorful, sometimes camouflaged, underside of wings is drab for camouflage; Breeding season- Late Spring, Summer, &/or early Fall; Sexes shaped differently; No real human impact, some caterpillars give rashes; Found in any habitat w/ plants; Herbivores, preyed on by mantids, mice, ants, wasps, ladybirds, lacewings; Eat many types of flowers/plants…; AKA 4 footed butterflies;

Satyridae (Satyrs, nymphs & arctics {butterflies})

  • Thorax: Habits of low & uneven flight; FL much reduced & lack claws, weak fliers; Some have eyespots on wings; Wingspan 1-2 inches, weak fliers, some veins (Sc) greatly swollen @ base, swollen parts contain special hearing organs;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Female larger, males have glands on wings that produce sex attractants;
  • Life Cycle: Lasts one year or less; Eggs elongate or dome shaped, caterpillars green & well camo’ed;
  • Misc Anatomy: Grayish or brownish;
  • Human Impact: Don’t affect humans in neg or pos ways;
  • Habitat: Some live in wetlands (forest streams…), others live in dry areas;
  • Diet: Sip nectar, eat aphid honeydew, sometimes feed on dung, carrion, & rotting fruit;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA- browns;
  • Misc: Preyed on by spiders, ants, mantids, parasitic flies, ladybugs, lacewings, mites; Don’t like bright light; Hides from predators w/ camo;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (753) 598, 599, 600, 602, 603

Some have eyespots on wings; FL much reduced & lack claws, weak fliers; Wingspan 1-2 inches, weak fliers, some veins (Sc) greatly swollen @ base, swollen parts contain special hearing organs; Habits of low & uneven flight; Female larger, males have glands on wings that produce sex attractants; Harmless; one year or less; Grayish or brownish; Eggs elongate or dome shaped, caterpillars green & well camo’ed; Some live in wetlands (forest streams…), others live in dry areas; Sip nectar, eat aphid honeydew, sometimes feed on dung, carrion, & rotting fruit; Preyed on by spiders, ants, mantids, parasitic flies, ladybugs, lacewings, mites; Don’t like bright light; Hides from predators w/ camo; Don’t affect humans in neg or pos ways; AKA- browns;

Danaidae (milkweed butterflies)

  • Head: Siphoning, vestigial mandibles; Antennae not covered in scales; Some have eyespots;
  • Thorax: Short 3rd anal vein in FW, Wings held upright while @ rest; FL modified into brushes not used for walking;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Males have a swollen pouch on HW;
  • Life Cycle: Mate in Spring before migration;
  • Misc Anatomy: Wingspan- 8.6 to 12.4 cm; Wings bright orange w/ black markings along veins & borders; Poisonous to vertebrates because of milkweed;
  • Human Impact: Some poisonous to cattle, reduce population of milkweeds;
  • Habitat: Warm climates, open country;
  • Diet: Larvae feed on milkweeds, adults sip nectar;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (757) 620+16, 622+17

Siphoning, vestigial mandibles; Antennae not covered in scales; Some have eyespots; Short 3rd anal vein in FW, Wings held upright while @ rest; FL modified into brushes not used for walking; Wingspan- 8.6 to 12.4 cm; Wings bright orange w/ black markings along veins & borders; Poisonous to vertebrates because of milkweed; Mate in Spring before migration; Males have a swollen pouch on HW; Some poisonous to cattle, reduce population of milkweeds; Warm climates, open country; Larvae feed on milkweeds, adults sip nectar;

Pyralidae (pyralid moths)

  • Head: Have ‘snout’ (proboscis), palps large & projecting forwards;
  • Thorax: Hold their wings out to the side, fold them flat, or roll them up, FW usu elongate-triangular, HW broad & rounded, m2 in FW rises near M3;
  • Abdomen: Tympanum on sides of abdomen;
  • Misc Anatomy: Drab colors?; Wingspan 9-37mm;
  • Human Impact: Many are household & granary pests;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA snout moths;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (761) 524, 532, 537, 252

Have ‘snout’ (proboscis), palps large & projecting forwards; Hold their wings out to the side, fold them flat, or roll them up, FW usu elongate-triangular, HW broad & rounded, m2 in FW rises near M3; Wingspan 9-37mm; Drab colors?; Tympanum on sides of abdomen; Many are household & granary pests; AKA snout moths;

Saturniidae (Giant Silkworm moths)

  • Head: Mouthparts vestigial; Antennae bipectinate or feathery, larger in males; Head relatively small;
  • Thorax: Wings have eyespots; Fan-shaped wings w/dark eyespots, broad wings, frenulum small or vestigial, humeral angle of HW not noticeably expanded, HW with only one anal vein, distal cell in FW generally open;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Males larger antennae;
  • Misc Anatomy: Wingspan 3-15cm, some up to 6in; Sometimes brightly colored, others drab; use pheromones; Thick hairy bodies;
  • Human Impact: Some used in silk production or defoliator pests;
  • Habitat: Wooded tropical/subtropical regions;
  • Diet: Don’t feed as adults;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (769) 550+19, 562+12, 563, 564+20, 566+27, 567+23, 568+28, 571, 572, 573+24

Mouthparts vestigial; Antennae bipectinate or feathery, larger in males; Wings have eyespots; Head relatively small; Fan-shaped wings w/dark eyespots, broad wings, frenulum small or vestigial, humeral angle of HW not noticeably expanded, HW with only one anal vein, distal cell in FW generally open; Wingspan 3-15cm, some up to 6in; Sometimes brightly colored, others drab; use pheromones; Thick hairy bodies; Males larger antennae; Some used in silk production or defoliator pests; Wooded tropical/subtropical regions; Don’t feed as adults; *Some produce clicking sounds w/ mandibles; 50-100mm in final instar; Many cryptic, some bright; Stout, cylindrical; Most solitary, others gregarious; Covered in hair/spines; Have tubercles or spines on body; Feed on foliage of trees/shrubs; Females lay up to 200 eggs on host plant; Eggs are round, slightly flattened, smooth & translucent or whitish; Cocoon made of silk attached to twigs/leaves;

Information about Immatures/Life Cycle of Saturniidae

  • Anatomy: Some produce clicking sounds w/ mandibles; 50-100mm in final instar; Covered in hair/spines; Have tubercles or spines on body; Many cryptic, some brightly colored; Stout, cylindrical;
  • Sociality: Most solitary, others gregarious;
  • Diet: Feed on foliage of trees/shrubs;
  • Development: Females lay up to 200 eggs on host plant; Eggs are round, slightly flattened, smooth & translucent or whitish; Cocoon made of silk attached to twigs/leaves;

Sphingidae (sphinx moths, hornworms)

  • Head: Very long proboscis that rolls up when not in use; Antennae thickest near midpoint, sometimes bipectinate; No ocelli;
  • Thorax: Long, narrow forewings w/ a posterior angle greater than 120 deg; HW much shorter than FW, frenulum present but sometimes small, have a retinaculum; Strong fliers (12mph), rapid wingbeat, some hover;
  • Abdomen: Streamlined abdomens;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Some males have thicker antennae & more mottled wing markings, also have partial comb of hairs on antennae;
  • Life Cycle:
  • Misc Anatomy: Whole bodies covered in scales; Wingspan 28-175 mm; Body thick, hairy, & spindle-shaped; Lack tympanal organs;
  • Human Impact: Larvae damage plants;
  • Habitat: Some nocturnal, feeding @ dusk;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Suck nectar w/ proboscis;
  • Explanation of Name: Some called hornworms because of larvae dorsal projection;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (776) 26, 523, 547, 548,549, 554, 558+25 565, 569

Very long proboscis that rolls up when not in use; Long, narrow forewings w/ a posterior angle greater than 120 deg; HW much shorter than FW, frenulum present but sometimes small, have a retinaculum; Whole bodies covered in scales; Strong fliers (12mph), rapid wingbeat, some hover; Antennae thickest near midpoint, sometimes bipectinate; No ocelli; Streamlined abdomens; Wingspan 28-175 mm; Body thick, hairy, & spindle-shaped; Lack tympanal organs; Very good fliers; Some nocturnal, feeding @ dusk; Some males have thicker antennae & more mottled wing markings, also have partial comb of hairs on antennae; Larvae damage plants; Herbivores; Suck nectar w/ proboscis; Some called hornworms because of larvae dorsal projection; *Some pupa have free proboscis; Caterpillars- 5 pairs of prolegs; Large-medium in size; Some cryptically colored, have diagonal slashes; Bodies lack hair (small amounts) & have dorsal horn; Burrow in soil to pupate; 2-3 weeks as pupa; Eggs translucent, greenish, flattened, smooth eggs singly on host plant, take 3-21 days to develop; AKA hornworms;

Information about Immatures/Life Cycle of Sphingidae

  • Anatomy: Some pupa have free proboscis; Caterpillars- 5 pairs of prolegs; Large-medium in size; Some cryptically colored, have diagonal slashes; Bodies lack hair (small amounts) & have dorsal horn;
  • Development: Burrow in soil to pupate; 2-3 weeks as pupa; Eggs translucent, greenish, flattened, smooth eggs singly on host plant, take 3-21 days to develop;
  • Explanation of Names: AKA hornworms;

Arctiidae (tiger moths, wooly worms)

  • Head: Antennae filiform;
  • Thorax: Tymbal organ on the metathorax, has membranes that are vibrated to produce ultrasonic sounds, also have thoracic tympanal organs for hearing; Wings held over body @ rest, have geometric patterns;
  • Misc Anatomy: Brightly colored, wings have shapes;
  • Habitat: Many active during day, some night;
  • Sociality: Some solitary-gregarious;
  • Explanation of Name: Arctia- bear, hairy appearance of larvae; Larvae called woolly bears;
  • Misc: Aposematism- retain harmful/distasteful chemicals from host plant; Some can jam bat sonar; Bats are predators;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (785) 555, 531,527+4, 529+6, 540, 553, 5+541, 165, 551

Wings held over body @ rest, have geometric patterns; Antennae filiform; Wingspan 4-9cm??; Brightly colored, wings have shapes; Tymbal organ on the metathorax, has membranes that are vibrated to produce ultrasonic sounds, also have thoracic tympanal organs for hearing; Most nocturnal; Aposematism- retain harmful/distasteful chemicals from host plant; Many active during day, some night; Some solitary-gregarious; Some can jam bat sonar; Bats are predators; Arctia- bear, hairy appearance of larvae; Larvae called woolly bears;

Lymantriidae (tussock moths)

  • Head: Vestigal mouth?, adults don’t feed, short-lived; Antennae bipectinate, males plumose;
  • Thorax: Wings of some females reduced;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Males have tympanal organs & plumose antennae, females smaller;
  • Life Cycle: Adults have short life;
  • Misc Anatomy: Usu brown/gray, some white; Have urticating hairs, painful to the touch;
  • Human Impact: Caterpillars attack trees;
  • Habitat: Most nocturnal;
  • Diet: Don’t eat;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (793) 165, 527+4, 529+6, 531, 540,541+5, 553, 551, 555

Vestigal mouth?, adults don’t feed, short-lived; Wings of some females reduced; Antennae bipectinate, males plumose; Usu brown/gray, some white; Have urticating hairs, painful to the touch; Adults have short life; Males have tympanal organs & plumose antennae, females smaller; Caterpillars attack trees; Urticating hairs on caterpillars hurt people; Most nocturnal; Don’t eat;

Noctuidae (noctuid moths)

  • Head: Sturdy, sharp proboscis, palps extend to middle of face or beyond; Antennae filiform, never plumose; Ocelli almost always present;
  • Thorax: FW mottled in color, HW differ from FW in color or pattern, Sc & R in HW fused for a short distance beyond a small basal areole, then separating, cu in HW appears 3 or 4 branched;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Male have plume-like antennae to detect pheromones;
  • Misc Anatomy: Robust, stout bodied; Have specialized organs that respond to bat echolocation by flapping wings rapidly;
  • Human Impact: Larvae agricultural pests;
  • Habitat: Most fly @ night, attracted to light;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Diets vary greatly (foliage, decaying organic matter…);
  • Explanation of Name: AKA cutworm moths, owlet moths;
  • Misc: Preyed on by bats;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (795) 521+18, 526, 556, 557, 559, 561

Sturdy, sharp proboscis, palps extend to middle of face or beyond; Antennae filiform, never plumose; Ocelli almost always present; FW mottled in color, HW differ from FW in color or pattern, Sc & R in HW fused for a short distance beyond a small basal areole, then separating, cu in HW appears 3 or 4 branched; (see wings for color); Robust, stout bodied; Have specialized organs that respond to bat echolocation by flapping wings rapidly; Preyed on by bats; Male have plume-like antennae to detect pheromones; Larvae agricultural pests; Most fly @ night, attracted to light; Herbivores; Diets vary greatly (foliage, decaying organic matter…); AKA cutworm moths, owlet moths;

Table for Distinguishing Lepidoptera Families

Lepidoptera Quick-ID
Family Name Characteristics
Sesiidae Clear wings; Look like bees/wasps; Hooked antennae
Tortricidae Wings fold rounded over back; Camo colored;
Hesperiidae Antennae thicker at end; Unique wing resting position;
Papilionidae Tails on wings;
Pieridae Can be white, yellow, or orange;
Lycaenidae Blue/copper colored; Some have tails on wings; Antennae can be ringed in color;
Nymphalidae FL VERY reduced; Many are orange-ish;
Satyridae Eyespots on wings; Usually orange/gray/brown;
Danaidae Orange with white spots on black outer margins;
Pyralidae Drab colored, usually brown & white; Tympanum on second abdominal segment;
Saturniidae Large; Have eyespots on wings; Distinctive antennae;
Sphingidae Forewings much larger than hindwings;
Arctiidae Brightly colored (aposematism); May have clear wings; Geometric patterns;
Lymantriidae Dull colored; Hairy wings;
Noctuidae FW differently colored than HW; Antennae threadlike

Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps)

  • Head: Mandibulate & ectognathous except in bees, many have relatively unspecialized mandiubulate mouthparts; Antennae 10+ seg, 13 in male, 12 in female (some 3-60 seg), longer than head; Well-developed compound eyes, 3 ocelli;
  • Thorax: FW- triangular stigma, larger than HW, HW linked to FW with hamuli (little hooks); 5 seg tarsi;
  • Misc Anatomy: .2-115mm (usu 2-30mm); Narrow junction (wasp waist) between thorax & abdomen - except in sawflies & horntails;
  • Human Impact: A few are pests, some highly beneficial (pollination, pest control);
  • Habitat: Common worldwide
  • Diet: Most predatory/parasitic, successful group because of many adaptations, many narrowly adapted for a specific habitat or host; Many eat nectar;
  • Sociality: Only order except Isoptera to have complex social divisions in some families;
  • Explanation of Name: The name Hymenoptera is derived from the Greek words "hymen" meaning membrane and "ptera" meaning wings. It is also a reference to Hymeno, the Greek god of marriage. The name is appropriate not only for the membranous nature of the wings, but also for the manner in which they are "joined together as one" by the hamuli.
  • Misc: Sex determined by # of chromosomes (haplodiploidy); 3rd largest insect order

Mandibulate & ectognathous except in bees, many have relatively unspecialized mandiubulate mouthparts; Antennae 10+ seg, 13 in male, 12 in female (some 3-60 seg), longer than head; Well-developed compound eyes, 3 ocelli; FW- triangular stigma, larger than HW, HW linked to FW with hamuli (little hooks);.2-115mm (usu 2-30mm); Tarsi 5 seg, Narrow junction (wasp waist) between thorax & abdomen - except in sawflies & horntails; Sex determined by # of chromosomes (haplodiploidy); A few pests, some highly beneficial (pollination, pest control); Common worldwide, 3rd largest order; Most predatory/parasitic, successful group because of many adaptations, many narrowly adapted for a specific habitat or host; Many eat nectar; Only order except Isoptera to have complex social divisions in some families; “Hymen”- membrane, “Ptera”- wings, also referring to Greed God Hymeno (marriage) because wings are joined; Third largest order of insects;

Tenthredinidae (common sawflies)

  • Head: 5-9 antennal Flagellomeres, long threadlike antennae;
  • Thorax: FW with one or two marginal cells, without intercoastal vein;
  • Life Cycle: Females have saw-like ovipositors, use to cut slits thru barks of twigs, lay translucent eggs (this damages trees); Most (eruciform) larvae are (herbivores) external feeders on foliage, some leaf miners or gall makers; Single generation per year, overwinters in ground/protected places as a pupa/cocoon;
  • Misc Anatomy: 5-20mm; Brightly colored, black, brown; Somewhat flattened; mesosoma (or thorax) & the metasoma (abdomen) are broadly joined; Lack slender ‘wasp waist’ or petiole between thorax/abdomen;
  • Human Impact: Some serious plant pests, females damage trees while inserting eggs;
  • Habitat: Often found on flowers;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Don’t eat much, feed on foliage;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (803) 481

5-9 antennal Flagellomeres, long threadlike antennae; FW with one or two marginal cells, without intercoastal vein; 5-20mm; Brightly colored, black, brown; Somewhat flattened; mesosoma (or thorax) & the metasoma (abdomen) are broadly joined; Single generation per year, overwinters in ground/protected places as a pupa/cocoon; Lack slender ‘wasp waist’ or petiole between thorax/abdomen; Most (eruciform) larvae are (herbivores) external feeders on foliage, some leaf miners or gall makers; Females have saw-like ovipositors, use to cut slits thru barks of twigs, lay translucent eggs (this damages trees); Some serious plant pests, females damage trees while inserting eggs; Often found on flowers; Herbivores; Don’t eat much, feed on foliage;

Siricidae (horntails)

  • Thorax: Pronotum in dorsal view wider than long & slender along midline than laterally;
  • Abdomen: Apex of abdomen w/ dorsally located spear (horn);
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Female has two long structures at apex of abdomen, the LOWER one is the ovipositor;
  • Life Cycle: Larval development takes 1-3 years; Larvae wood boring; *Misc Anatomy: Size varies tremendously, adults of same species from 1-5cm difference; Brown, blue, or black with yellow parts; No stinger;
  • Human Impact: Pests (attack weakened/dying/dead wood…);
  • Habitat: Attracted to fire damaged trees, live in forests;
  • Diet: Feed on wood;
  • Sociality: Non-social;
  • Misc: Lots of muscular power; Noisy fliers;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (804) 474, 477

Size varies tremendously, adults of same species from 1-5cm difference; Brown, blue, or black with yellow parts; Pronotum in dorsal view wider than long & slender along midline than laterally; Apex of abdomen w/ dorsally located spear (horn); Female has two long structures at apex of abdomen, the LOWER one is the ovipositor; Larval development takes 1-3 years; Lots of muscular power; Noisy fliers; Larvae wood boring; No stinger; *Horn NOT female’s ovipositor*; Pests (attack weakened/dying/dead wood…); Attracted to fire damaged trees, live in forests; Feed on wood; Non-social;

Ichneumonidae (ichneumons)

  • Head: Antennae long, 16+ segments;
  • Thorax: FW lack a costal cell, horsehead cell visible in front wing, 2 recurrent veins, 2nd submarginal cell small or lacking, base of cubital vein lacking, 1st submarginal & 1st discoidal cells fused;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females ovipositor longer than body;
  • Misc Anatomy: 3-40mm; Many uniformly colored with yellow/black, others brightly patterned with black & brown or black & yellow; Most inject eggs directly into host’s body (larvae or pupa of other insects); Don’t sting but ovipositor can pierce skin; Darwin wrote about their cannibalism; Slender, wasplike;
  • Human Impact: Many pest control;
  • Habitat: Common almost everywhere;
  • Diet: Parasites, some cannibals?; Hosts- larvae & pupa of other insects, spiders;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA scorpion wasps;
  • Misc: Largest family of insects;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (808) 445, 453, 465

Antennae long, 16+ segments; FW lack a costal cell, horsehead cell visible in front wing, 2 recurrent veins, 2nd submarginal cell small or lacking, base of cubital vein lacking, 1st submarginal & 1st discoidal cells fused; 3-40mm; Many uniformly colored with yellow/black, others brightly patterned with black & brown or black & yellow; Most inject eggs directly into host’s body (larvae or pupa of other insects); Don’t sting but ovipositor can pierce skin; Darwin wrote about their cannibalism; Largest family of insects; Slender, wasplike; Females ovipositor longer than body; Many pest control; Common almost everywhere; Parasites, some cannibals?; Hosts- larvae & pupa of other insects, spiders; AKA scorpion wasps;

Cynipidae (gall wasps)

  • Head: Antennae straight, filiform, 13 seg in females, 14-15 in males;
  • Thorax: Wing venation simple, wing simple in structure; First tarsal seg very long;
  • Life Cycle: Reproduction is partly two-sex propagation & partly pre parthenogenesis, most have alteration of generations (one two sex, one parthenogenetic);
  • Misc Anatomy: 2-8mm; Drab colored, usually black; Use galls as refuge during development some parasitoids penetrate galls & parasitize the wasp; Larvae have no anuses; Have wasp-waist, abdomen oval & somewhat compressed & shiny; Most humpbacked;
  • Human Impact: Tree pests, galls in oak trees;
  • Habitat: Found on/around trees;
  • Diet: Adults short lived, don’t feed, larvae get nourishment from gall;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (813) 448, 449

Wing venation simple, wing simple in structure; First tarsal seg very long; Antennae straight, filiform, 13 seg in females, 14-15 in males; 2-8mm; Drab colored, usually black; Use galls as refuge during development some parasitoids penetrate galls & parasitize the wasp; Larvae have no anuses; Reproduction is partly two-sex propagation & partly pre parthenogenesis, most have alteration of generations (one two sex, one parthenogenetic); Have wasp-waist, abdomen oval & somewhat compressed & shiny; Most humpbacked; (Only antennae sexually dimorphic); Tree pests, galls in oak trees; Found on/around trees; Some larvae used as hosts; Adults short lived, don’t feed, larvae get nourishment from gall;

Mutillidae (velvet-ants)

  • Sexual Dimorphism: Males winged, less hairy, look more like other wasps, Females wingless, very hairy, & may look like large ants but have no node (bump) on "waist" between abdomen & thorax (ants have one or two); Females Can sting;
  • Misc Anatomy: 6-30mm; Brightly colored, aposematic, most red; Wasps, NOT ants, lack petiole nodes; Exhibit haplodiploid sex determination;
  • Human Impact:
  • Habitat: Dry habitats; Some nocturnal, females often active during day;
  • Diet: Feed on nectar;
  • Sociality: Solitary; some are parasites;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA panda ants, cow killer ants;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (817) 325, 326, 327

Females wingless; 6-30mm; Brightly colored, aposematic, most red; Wasps, NOT ants, lack petiole nodes; Exhibit haplodiploid sex determination; Males winged, less hairy, look more like other wasps, Females wingless, very hairy, & may look like large ants but have no node (bump) on "waist" between abdomen & thorax (ants have one or two); Females Can sting; Dry habitats; Feed on nectar; Some nocturnal, females often active during day; Solitary; some parasites; AKA panda ants, cow killer ants;

Formicidae (ants)

  • Head: Long, broad, serrated jaws, used for digging, collecting food, fighting & cutting; Antennae elbowed, 6-13 seg, 1st seg very long(geniculate); Eyes have specialized cells that detect polarizing rays of light from sun, 3 ocelli;
  • Thorax: Workers wingless, reproductive winged, venation of winged forms normal or slightly reduced; Hooked claw at end of each leg;
  • Abdomen: 1st one or two abdominal segments nodelike, or with a dorsal hump, differing from remaining segments;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Only female reproductive caste have wings, tear off wings after mating, males die after mating;
  • Life Cycle: Queens live for several years, workers- a year to a few months, males die as soon as they mate (live for a few weeks);
  • Misc Anatomy: 1-25mm; Black, brown, or reddish;
  • Human Impact: Some pest control, some studied because of ability to solve complex problems, (pests) Non-sterile conditions, Some damage crops; Some sting/bite, some eject a foul smelling secretion from anus;
  • Habitat: Soil, leaf litter, dead wood;
  • Diet: Some predators/scavengers, preyed on by insect eating birds, toads, spiders, ground beetles; Food varies, some eat plant juices, others human food, some eat aphid honeydew;
  • Sociality: Eusocial, 3-caste system, winged reproductive male & female, sterile worker (females that can’t reproduce), soldier (bigger mandibles & head), have division of labor, communicate with sight & touch;
  • Misc: Summer = breeding season;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (821) 309, 310, 311, 312, 313,314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 321,322, 323, 446

Long, broad, serrated jaws, used for digging, collecting food, fighting & cutting; Antennae elbowed, 6-13 seg, 1st seg very long(geniculate); Eyes have specialized cells that detect polarizing rays of light from sun, 3 ocelli; Workers wingless, reproductive winged, venation of winged forms normal or slightly reduced; Hooked claw at end of each leg; 1st one or two abdominal segments nodelike, or with a dorsal hump, differing from remaining segments; 1-25mm; Black, brown, or reddish; Queens live for several years, workers- a year to a few months, males die as soon as they mate (live for a few weeks); Only female reproductive caste have wings, tear off wings after mating, males die after mating; Some pest control, some studied because of ability to solve complex problems, (pests) Non-sterile conditions, Some damage crops; Some sting/bite, some eject a foul smelling secretion from anus; Soil, leaf litter, dead wood; Summer = breeding season; Some predators/scavengers, preyed on by insect eating birds, toads, spiders, ground beetles; Food varies, some eat plant juices, others human food, some eat aphid honeydew; Eusocial, 3-caste system, winged reproductive male & female, sterile worker (females that can’t reproduce), soldier (bigger mandibles & head), have division of labor, communicate with sight & touch;

Vespidae (paper wasps)

  • Head: Inner margin of eye notched;
  • Thorax: FW fold in half longitudinally, first discoidal cell in FW very long, half as long as wing or nearly so, folded longitudinally at rest; Legs normal length;
  • Life Cycle: New queens & drones produced end of summer;
  • Misc Anatomy: Bodies light brown, reddish brown or black with yellow markings, no hair; Back margin of pronotum U-shaped;
  • Habitat: Some pollinators, pest control;
  • Diet: Predators;
  • Sociality: Some eusocial like ants (most eusocial), others solitary;
  • Explanation of Name: AKA Hornets, Hornets & Yellowjackets, Paper Wasps, Potter Wasps, & Yellowjackets
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (832) 442, 444,467, 470, 478, 483, 486

FW fold in half longitudinally, first discoidal cell in FW very long, half as long as wing or nearly so, folded longitudinally at rest; Legs normal length; Inner margin of eye notched; Bodies light brown, reddish brown or black with yellow markings, no hair; Back margin of pronotum U-shaped; New queens & drones produced end of summer; Some pollinators, pest control; Predators; Some eusocial like ants (most eusocial), others solitary; AKA Hornets, Hornets & Yellowjackets, Paper Wasps, Potter Wasps, & Yellowjackets

Colletidae (plaster bees)

  • Head: Short, bilobed tonges; Some have greatly enlarged ocelli;
  • Thorax: Jugal lobe in HW longer than submedian cell;
  • Misc Anatomy: ~7-16mm; Black or white with yellow markings on face; Lack external pollen-carrying organ, carry pollen in crop; Hairy;
  • Human Impact:
  • Habitat: Nests in plant stems, plant galls, tunnels of wood-boring insects, abandoned nests of other bees & wasps, or in the ground; Some crepuscular (twilight);
  • Explanation of Name: AKA masked bees, called plaster bees because they smooth the walls of their nests with secretions from mouthparts;
  • Misc: Formerly regarded as most primitive Hymenoptera;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (851) 468, 492

Short, bilobed tonges; Some have greatly enlarged ocelli; Jugal lobe in HW longer than submedian cell; ~7-16mm; Black or white with yellow markings on face; Lack external pollen-carrying organ, carry pollen in crop; Formerly regarded as most primitive Hymenoptera; Hairy; Nests in plant stems, plant galls, tunnels of wood-boring insects, abandoned nests of other bees & wasps, or in the ground; Some crepuscular (twilight); Solitary; AKA masked bees, called plaster bees because they smooth the walls of their nests with secretions from mouthparts;

Halictidae (Alkali/ sweat bees)

  • Thorax: Two or three submarginal cells in front wing, Basal vein in front wing strongly arched; Females carry pollen on the tibia & femur of their hind legs;
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Females can sting when pinched; Males can have yellow faces, more slender, don’t have scopa (area of hairs on leg used for pollen collection);
  • Misc Anatomy: 4-10mm, small-med sized; Body metallic, often shiny green; Most slender; Attracted to perspiration
  • Human Impact:Very important pollinators;
  • Habitat: Nest in the ground;
  • Diet: Herbivores; Feed on nectar;
  • Sociality: Solitary, some eusocial;
  • Explanation of Name: ‘sweat bee’- attracted to sweat;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (852) 510, 517, 518

Two or three submarginal cells in front wing, Basal vein in front wing strongly arched; Females carry pollen on the tibia & femur of their hind legs; 4-10mm, small-med sized; Body metallic, often shiny green; Most slender; Attracted to perspiration, Females can sting when pinched; Males can have yellow faces, more slender, don’t have scopa (area of hairs on leg used for pollen collection); Very important pollinators; Nest in the ground; Herbivores; Feed on nectar; Solitary, some eusocial; ‘sweat bee’- attracted to sweat;

Megachilidae (leaf cutter bees)

  • Head: Maxillary palps vestigial or well developed;
  • Thorax: Front wings with two submarginal cells, Jugal love of HW shorter than submedian cell, FW with two nearly equal sized submarginal cells; (No pollen collectors on legs);
  • Abdomen: Scopa (pollen carrying) on front side of abdomen (underside);
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Males die shortly after mating;
  • Misc Anatomy: 6-18mm; Black with pale yellow stripes on abdomen; Stout bodies;
  • Habitat: Found in fields with flowers;
  • Diet: Herbivore; All feed on nectar/pollen (few species called cukoo bees feed on pollen collected by other Megachilidae);
  • Sociality: Solitary;
  • Explanation of Name: Build nest cells out of leaves ‘leafcutters’, AKA mason bees, some Cuckoo bees;
  • Misc: Among the world’s most efficient pollinators;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (857-9) 482, 490, 493, 498

Maxillary palps vestigial or well developed; Front wings with two submarginal cells, Jugal love of HW shorter than submedian cell, FW with two nearly equal sized submarginal cells; (No pollen collectors on legs); 6-18mm; Black with pale yellow stripes on abdomen; Stout bodies; Scopa (pollen carrying) on front side of abdomen (underside); Males die shortly after mating; Among the world’s most efficient pollinators; Found in fields with flowers; Herbivore; All feed on nectar/pollen (few species called cukoo bees feed on pollen collected by other Megachilidae); Solitary; Build nest cells out of leaves ‘leafcutters’, AKA mason bees, some Cuckoo bees;

Apidae (bees)

  • Head: Maxillae & labium have evolved to form a tongue for collecting nectar ‘proboscis’; Straight antennae; Nocturnal species have larger eyes;
  • Thorax: First segment of hind tarsi enlarged & flattened, usually bearing a "pollen basket";
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Female larger; Males die shortly after mating;
  • Misc Anatomy: Short & stout; Yellow, black, honey brown in color; Body covered in numerous branched hairs; Most have painful sting;
  • Human Impact: Very beneficial pollinators, stings can injure, source of medicine or drug;
  • Habitat: Live anywhere without extreme cold;
  • Diet: Herbivores, preyed on by crab spiders, wasps, ants, bears; Drink nectar & pollen;
  • Sociality: Some eusocial, subsocial, solitary
  • Explanation of Name: Also contains honey bees, stingless bees, carpenter bees…;
  • Misc: Spring/summer- breeding season;
  • Audubon Plate Numbers: (862-4) 511, 505, 506

Maxillae & labium have evolved to form a tongue for collecting nectar ‘proboscis’; First segment of hind tarsi enlarged & flattened, usually bearing a "pollen basket"; Straight antennae; Nocturnal species have larger eyes; Short & stout; Yellow, black, honey brown in color; Body covered in numerous branched hairs; Most have painful sting; Spring/summer- breeding season; Female larger; Males die shortly after mating; Very beneficial pollinators, stings can injure, source of medicine or drug; Live anywhere without extreme cold; Herbivores, preyed on by crab spiders, wasps, ants, bears; Drink nectar & pollen; Some eusocial, subsocial, solitary; Also contains honey bees, stingless bees, carpenter bees…;

Table for Distinguishing Hymenoptera Families

Hymenoptera Quick-ID
Family Name Characteristics
Tenthredinidae No petiole; Long curved antennae;
Siricidae Horn at end of abdomen; No petiole;
Ichneumonidae Long slender abdomen; Antennae long with many segs;
Cynipidae Spherical abdomen; Humpbacked;
Mutillidae WASPS, not ants; Hairy; Poison colored;
Formicidae Petiole nodes; Geniculate antennae;
Vespidae Not hairy;
Colletidae Abd more slender than Megachilidae; "yellow faced" bee; Minimally hairy thorax;
Halictidae Metallic/green; Red antennae;
Megachilidae Scopa on ventral side of abdomen; "fat" abd;
Apidae Scopa for carrying pollen on HL;