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Insect Identification Key
Order Megaloptera: the dobsonflies, alderflies and fishflies

Big Jaws
Now these insects have some big jaws! Both are eastern dobsonflies (Corydalis cornutus). The top photo is a female and the bottom (with the enormous spear-like jaws) is a male. Photo credit: public domain.
Click here to see examples of more insects in the order Megaloptera!

Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your insect as being in the order Megaloptera!

Members of this order include: dobsonflies, alderflies and fishflies (not to be confused with the fishflies in the order Ephemeroptera).

Etymology: Megaloptera comes from the Greek words megalo, which means large, and ptera, which means wings. This refers to the characteristically large wings present in the members of this order.

General characteristics:
• large body
• soft-bodied
chewing mouthparts
• large compound eyes
• long antennae
• two pairs of large membranous wings
• wings have considerable veins and crossveins
• no cerci
• male dobsonflies have especially large mandibles, or jaws
holometabolous metamorphosis (egg — larvapupa — adult)

Click here to see examples of more insects in the order Megaloptera!

Number of species worldwide: about 300


Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Class Insecta
         Order Megaloptera

For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.

Classification note: At one time, insects in the order Megaloptera were included within the order Neuroptera. Although many species in this order have “fly” in their common names, they are not true flies. True flies are in the order Diptera.

Oops! If this doesn’t appear to be the order for your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!

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Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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