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Insect Identification Key
Order Siphonaptera: the fleas

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

Members of this order include: fleas.

Etymology: Siphonaptera comes from the Greek words siphon, which means a tube, and aptera, which means without wings. This refers to two characteristics: the absence of wings, and the presence of a tube-like mouthparts that the insects use to pierce the skin of host animals and drink their blood.

General characteristics:
• small, laterally flattened body (they look narrow when viewed from above)
• dark-colored
• wingless
• short, clubbed antennae that the insect stores away in a groove on either side of the head
• bristles usually present on legs and body
• enlarged hind legs
• piercing, sucking mouthparts
holometabolous metamorphosis (egg — larvapupa — adult)

Number of species worldwide: about 2,250

Basic ecology:
Under construction: We will be adding information to this section soon.

Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Class Insecta
         Order Siphonaptera

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

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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