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Compendium Spot ID Tutorials Labs Glossary NC Pests

Holometabolous Insects

In this lab you will learn to use spotID characters for identifying selected families of holometabolous insects and you will use the dichotomous key by Bland and Jaques to identify the holometabolous insects in your collection.



The main objectives of this lab are to help you:
1.  learn to identify selected families of holometabolous insects based on key characters
2.  identify (to family) the holometabolous insects that you will submit with your insect collection.



You will need the following materials for this lab:



During this lab session, we will focus on families of insects (adult stage) in the four largest holometabolous orders:  Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera, and Hymenoptera




Getting help

For help with identification, you can post pictures to the ID Discussion Forum or bring insects to my office.  Either way, be sure to note where and when the specimen was collected -- that often helps narrow down the possibilities.

Grading considerations

Your collection will be graded according to the checklist in the “Collection Instructions”.  Please note the following points:

All adults in the orders Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera, and Hymenoptera (that you submit for grading) must be identified to "family".  It is not required that adults in other holometabolous orders (e.g. Mecoptera, Neuroptera, Trichoptera, etc.) be identified to family level, but you can earn family credit for any specimens that are labeled with the correct family name.  In some cases, family identity is easy to determine (all doodlebugs are Mymerleontidae, for example).  In other cases, the family may be difficult to determine without high magnification or special mounting techniques.  Don’t waste a lot of time on these insects – just give the order name.

If an adult has been preserved in alcohol, be sure to include the word "adult" on its ID label.  You will lose two points on your collection grade for each adult in alcohol that does not bear this label.

The specimens you submit for grading should be in relatively good condition.  I don’t expect perfection, but all insects should have the head, thorax, and abdomen intact.  A few missing or broken appendages are acceptable as long as the corresponding part on the opposite side of the body is still present (i.e. one of everything!).  You may glue broken appendages back on to the body as long as you do it neatly. 

Family ID labels should be located under the date/locality labels and aligned parallel with the long axis of the insect’s body (or long axis of the paper point).

Ecology labels, if present, should be located under the family ID label and down against the pinning surface of your collection box. 

You will lose points on your collection grade for any of the following mistakes: