Entomology, Department of


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University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Entomology Online Masters Program Final Project. Lincoln, Nebraska.


Copyright 2019 Elizabeth Sorensen



Welcome to “What’s Bugging You?”

This is a dichotomous key meant to help you identify the Order of the insect you’ve found. Each page will present you with 2 choices. Pick the one that matches your insect the best. If you pick the one you think is right, but the next one doesn’t seem right, that’s okay! Just go back and try again.

Along the way there will be help. Any words that are highlighted will give you a definition to explain what that word means. Pictures will be provided to help choose an option. These pictures may have multiple descriptions from the key, and sometimes will tell you what the insect is. When you get to the Order page, you will get a description of that order.

This key will only get you to the Order of the insect you find. That means that you will have a very general idea of where your insect belongs. If you want more information or help with identification, check the Resources page in the menu. Figuring out the family, genus, and even species will help you get the exact right insect.

Some of the questions in the key require you to get up close and personal with your insect. The easiest way to do this is to put the insect to sleep or to kill it. The most humane way to kill an insect is by freezing. Place the insect in a jar and put it in the freezer overnight. If you only want to make it sleepy, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to half an hour. Check your insect to make sure it’s slowed down or isn’t moving before you remove it from the freezer. There is still a risk of it freezing to death, but it’s not a bad way to go. Some of the questions may require a magnifying glass, but few will require a microscope. If you have access to a dissecting scope you are well on your way to being an entomologist! Check the Equipment page for more information on insect catching tools.

Have fun! Liz Sorensen

This dichotomous key was pulled in its entirety from Borror and Delong's Introduction to the Study of Insects (7th ed.) by Triplehorn, C. A., & Johnson, N. F. (2005). The definitions are from many different places. All of the pictures are from the internet under the Creative Commons license or equivalent. Licensing information is available upon request. The descriptions of the Orders were taken from many places, including my education at UNL, Wikipedia, and BugGuide.net.

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