Introduction to the Identification of Insects
And Related Arthropods

P. M. Choate, modified and updated October 2011

The following documents have been used as reference materials for an insect classification course offered at the University of Florida. They emphasize Florida fauna and usually include the most commonly encountered families. If you use these keys please note they may not always work for your area, BUT with this advisory note please feel free to use as needed. I will add more keys to this page in the future so please check for updates.

These documents may contain columns, dot leaders in keys, and numerous figures. Due to the complex nature of these files, I have formatted them as PDF files (requires Acrobat Reader to view and print).

Download a free Acrobat reader from Adobe's download site.

The first file listed here contains a compilation of terms that you may encounter while learning to identify insects. I have indicated which term applies to which groups of insects along with a description of the term.

There is much disagreement when it comes to naming insect orders, the number, and acceptable names. I list here the most commonly used names, but hasten to mention that there are several other lists you may encounter. Adult Insect Identification Keys

The following identification keys and references are intended to help you identify adult insects with emphasis on the Florida fauna. Many of the identification keys have been produced by graduate students enrolled in Insect Classification, ENY 6166. In those cases the keys are literature-based only, so please use them with the knowledge that you may collect species not included here.

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