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Insect Identification Key
Who We Are

Click here to start the key!

Created by ...

Summer 2011: During the summer of 2011, five students enrolled in a course through Eastern Michigan University’s Fish Lake Biological Program, and created a key to the insect orders. The five students were:

      • Charlotte Dotson
      • Mary-Jo Germain
      • Amanda McCreless
      • Renee Millard
      • Sara Mitchell

They spent many hours adding photos and information to make the key accessible to anyone from children to adults. Thank you Charlotte, Mary-Jo, Amanda, Renee and Sara!

For a free download of the EMU students’ key, click here.

In addition, the student team worked on a second document: an “Insect Database.” The database provides examples of many of the orders, plus order descriptions and dozens of interesting facts about the insects.

For a free download of the database, click here.

Winter and spring 2012: Over the following winter and spring, the 2011 course instructor, Dr. Leslie Mertz, expanded upon the students’ initial key to build this website, which includes all of the orders in the world. The website includes photos of insects collected by Fish Lake students, insects photographed and identified by Dr Mertz, and many. many additional photos submitted by dozens of other people, including many students, who enjoy looking at and trying to identify insects. Thank you to everyone who has submitted photos! We love them!

What’s next? This website will continue to grow as more photos and more information — such as keys to the families within the orders — is added.

How you can help: If you have taken a nice, sharp, close-up photo of an insect and have identified it, we would like to add it to this website! We continue to add more photos — and photo credits — to the website, so if you want to have your photo and name on the website, imply click on one of the “share your photos” icons posted throughout this website. It's easy and it's fun!

• We hope you enjoy this website and learn more about the great diversity of six-legged creatures that share our wonderful world.

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Unless noted otherwise, photographs on this website are the property of the photographers and may not be reused without written permission from the photographers. To obtain permission, email the photographers here. High-resolution versions of the photographs are available.

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.

Reproduction of material from any GoExploreMichigan Media webpages without written permission is strictly prohibited.