VCSU Macro-Invertabrate Lab
Main Key
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Main Key

This key covers insects that live on or in the rivers and streams of North Dakota. For many groups their larvae (wingless specimens) are aquatic but the adults (winged individuals) are considered terrestrial. For these groups we cover only the aquatic larvae or nymphs. These groups include the Ephemeroptera (Mayflies), Plecoptera (Stoneflies), Trichoptera (caddisflies), Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies), Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths), Diptera (Flies and Mosquitoes), Neuroptera, and the Megaloptera (Dobsonflies and Alderflies). The Coleoptera (Beetles) have many groups that have both aquatic larvae and aquatic adults, therefore we have keys to both larval and adult beetles. In addition we have included keys to the adult Hemiptera (the True Bugs) and the Collembola (the Springtails).

Key to the Orders

Click on the description that most fits what you are trying to identify. This will take you to a page that has photo's of several different groups. If you find what you are looking for, click on link and/or description accompanying that picture and it will take you to the Family page for that group. To begin we have three choices for you, two of which will continue on to other choices.

Terrestrial Insects - Fully exposed, functional, membranous wings present (Figs. 1 & 2). These are terrestrial adults not considered in this key. Common Orders sometimes collected include the Ephemeroptera, Diptera, Plecoptera, Odonata, Trichoptera, and Hymenoptera.

Adult mayfly Adult fly
Aquatic Winged Adults - Functional wings well developed. May have hard outer covering called elytra (Fig. 3 & 4). Includes Adults of Hemiptera and Coleoptera.

Carabidae body Corixidae body
Immature larvae and nymphs - Wings incomplete (Fig. 5), absent (Fig. 6), or represented by wing buds only (Fig. 7), insect not capable of flight. Includes nymphs, larvae, pupae and wingless adults.

Mesovelidae wings Hydropsychidae body Polymitarcyidae wing buds

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