Identify an insect (beetle?)

Identify an insect (beetle?)

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  • Body size: 30mm
  • Location: Poland, in the middle of a large meadow
  • It was flying and landed directly on my cap :-)

After consulting wikipedia it look similar to some of Tenebrionoidea but can't find an exact match.


This is a Buprestid beetle, and I think the species is Chalcophora mariana. It doesn't look all that coppery in your photos, but the large size and shape is perfect. Their larvae live mostly on pines, so perhaps there were pines close to your meadow? (Image from Wikipedia)

Powderpost Beetles

Powderpost beetles are second only to termites in their ability to damage dry, seasoned wood. And yet, customers often receive conflicting opinions about whether the insects and/or damage they are seeing is indeed due to powderpost beetles. Mistakes also are made in determining whether the infestation is active, and if so, how it should be managed. As a result, the pests may cause considerable confusion for homeowners, wood suppliers, manufacturers, builders, and even pest control companies. This publication explains how to make those determinations.

Types and Habits

“Powderpost beetle” is a term used to describe several species of small (1/8-3/4 inch long) insects that reduce wood to a flour-like powder (Figure 1). The developing grub-like larvae inflict damage as they create narrow, meandering tunnels in wood as they feed. Tunneling and larval development take place entirely below the wood surface. Infestations typically are discovered after noticing powder, accompanied by small, round “shot holes” in the wood surface. These are exit holes where adult beetles have chewed out of the wood after completing their development. Newly emerged adults mate and lay eggs on or below the surface of bare, unfinished wood. The eggs hatch into tiny larvae that bore into the wood, emerging as adults one to five years later, usually during late winter, spring or summer depending upon species. Customers are more likely to see damage, rather than the beetles themselves, because the adults are cryptic and active mainly at night. Occasionally, the beetles may be found near damaged wood, or on windowsills since some are attracted to light.

Fig. 1: Powderpost beetles produce small round holes accompanied by wood powder.

The three most destructive groups of powderpost beetles are the lyctids , anobiids , and bostrichids . Each group contains several species capable of damaging wood materials.

Lyctid powderpost beetles are small (1/16-1/4 inch), narrow and elongated, reddish-brown to black beetles (Figure 2). Their emergence holes are round and about the size of a pinhead. The powdery dust feels like flour or fine talc, and often accumulates in small piles beneath or beside emergence holes. Lyctid powderpost beetles attack only wood products manufactured from hardwood (broadleaf) trees such as oak, ash, walnut, hickory, poplar or cherry. Consequently, infestations are often associated with flooring, paneling, molding, window and doorframes, and furniture. Lyctids do not normally infest structural building components (studs, joists, beams, etc.) since these usually consist of non-vulnerable softwoods (conifers/evergreens). Tropical hardwoods are especially prone to lyctid infestation because of poor storage and drying practices before importation. Articles made from bamboo are commonly infested as well. Plywood fabricated from hardwood veneers may be attacked, but damage is usually confined to the hardwood layer in which eggs were initially laid since the larvae tend to avoid glues and resins. Construction plywood (used for subfloors, sheathing, etc.), is made from softwood and is unsuitable for infestation by lyctids.

Fig. 2 Lyctid powderpost beetles. The powder is the consistency of flour.

After emergence and mating, female beetles locate susceptible wood to lay eggs. Ten to 50 eggs per female are inserted into the tiny pores and vessels of unfinished wood. Surfaces that are stained, varnished, waxed or painted are immune from attack (although larvae already within infested wood may emerge through finished surfaces). Also avoided are softwoods such as pine. Before depositing eggs, female lyctid beetles “test” the suitability of wood for the larvae, which require starches and sugars for development. If the starch content of wood is insufficient (less than about 3 percent), the females will not use it for egg laying.

Lower starch levels also make it harder for the larvae to complete their development. In newly seasoned wood with abundant nutrients, egg to adult development occurs in less than a year. Conversely, as wood ages, starch content declines and development slows to the point where some beetles may not emerge for two or more years if at all. Consequently, infestations eventually cease and die off even without intervention — an important factor when weighing treatment options (see ‘Managing Infestations’). Small numbers of beetles developing within wood may continue to emerge for up to about five years. This is due to diminished suitability of the wood rather than from new infestation. Homeowners should be aware of this possibility.

Lyctids have less stringent moisture requirements than other types of powderpost beetles. Infestations can persist in wood with a moisture content as low as about eight percent, a common occurrence in indoor, temperature-controlled environments. However, in drier wood (less than 10% moisture) maturation of larvae is prolonged, due to declining starch content.

As noted earlier, lyctid beetles typically start emerging from wood within a year of processing. Thus, infestations usually are encountered in new homes or newly manufactured articles. In almost all cases, infestation results from wood that contained eggs or larvae at the time it was brought into the dwelling. This is significant because responsibility for treatment or replacement often resides with the supplier, manufacturer, or installer, rather than the homeowner. The infested article probably was constructed from wood that was improperly dried or stored. Although lyctids sometimes infest firewood, this is seldom the reason other materials become infested within a home.

Bostrichid powderpost beetles vary in size depending on the species. Most associated with wood products are reddish-brown to black beetles ranging in length from 1/8-1/4 inch. Compared to lyctids, bostrichids are less narrow-bodied and flattened, and the head is oriented downward, appearing somewhat “hooded” (Figure 3). Many species also have tiny, roughened, rasp-like protrusions behind the head, and some have a pair of projecting spines at the end of the body. Bostrichids create circular 1/8-1/4 inch holes in wood like other powderpost beetles. Female beetles have the unusual habit of boring directly into wood in order to lay eggs. These holes are devoid of powder. Conversely, holes formed by beetles upon completing their development are packed with powder. Wood powder produced by bostrichids is more meal-like than lyctid powder and tends to remain tightly packed in the holes and feeding galleries of the larvae.

Fig. 3: Bostrichid powderpost beetles have a ‘hood like’ appearance up by the head.

Bostricid powderpost beetles are more serious pests of hardwood than softwood. There is little risk to softwood framing within homes. Similar to lyctids, bostrichids usually attack newly processed woods with high starch and moisture content. Tropical hardwoods (including bamboo) are especially vulnerable to attack, which often occurs prior to importation. Although bostrichids seldom re-infest wood after the first generation emerges, extensive damage can occur the first year due to a high initial population and rapid development.

Anobiid powderpost beetles are convex, reddish to dark brown beetles capable of attacking both hardwoods and softwoods. They are sometimes confused with drugstore and cigarette beetles that also occur in homes but infest stored foods. The emergence holes are 1/16-1/8 inch. Rubbed between the fingers, the powder sifting from the holes and accumulating in small piles may feel gritty (although for a few species attacking hardwoods this is not the case). Unlike the powderpost beetles discussed previously, anobiids can seriously damage beams, joists, and other structural components of buildings. Anobiids prefer to infest moist wood. A 13-30% moisture content is required for development of the larvae. Consequently, infestations are most severe in damp crawl spaces, basements, garages, and unheated outbuildings (Figure 4). Buildings with central heating and cooling seldom have sufficient dampness to support beetle development in living areas or attics.

Fig. 4: Anobiid powderpost beetles infest damp areas such as crawl spaces.

Anobiid infestations occur throughout much of the country, but are more common in the southeastern and coastal states where humidity and temperature are high and crawl space construction is abundant. Unlike lyctids and bostrichids, anobiid powderpost beetles can digest the cellulose within wood, and are less dependent on starch and other nutrients that decline over time. This allows them to attack and infest wood regardless of age. In Europe, for example, some species of anobiids continue to infest wood in buildings that are centuries old. Larval development occurs slowly, exceeding 2-3 years if conditions are suboptimal. As a result, infestations are seldom obvious in buildings less than 10 years old. Although damage occurs slowly, the ability of emerging beetles to re-infest wood year after year can lead to serious problems requiring treatment and repair.

Emergence of adult anobiids generally occurs during the spring and summer months. In nature, they dwell in dead tree limbs or bark-free trunk scars. The adults are strong fliers and some are attracted to lights. Infestations within buildings may originate from infested lumber, firewood, or from beetles entering from outdoors.

Mistaken Identities

Many similar-looking beetles that are not powderpost beetles may occur within buildings. It is important to know the difference to avoid confusion and ensure that costly treatments and repairs are not made unnecessarily. Definitive diagnosis usually requires confirmation by an entomologist or knowledgeable pest management professional. As noted previously, powderpost beetles are sometimes confused with other small brown or black beetles infesting stored food items (flour, cereal, grains, seeds, nuts, spices, pet/bird food, etc.). Examples include flour beetles, drugstore and cigarette beetles, weevils, and merchant/sawtoothed grain beetles. These pests typically occur near stored food items in kitchens, pantries, etc.

Another pest group often mistaken for powderpost beetles scavenge on surface molds associated with damp conditions. One of the most common is the foreign grain beetle (Figure 5). These beetles are small (about 1/16-inch long), brownish, and abundant, with large numbers often observed throughout the building. The key characteristic to look for in identifying this beetle is the presence of a slight projection or knob on each front corner of the shield-like segment directly behind the head. A microscope or other means of magnification is necessary to see this characteristic. Foreign grain beetles are one of a group of beetles that feed on molds and fungi growing on poorly seasoned lumber or wet plaster and wallboard. They often are a problem in newly built homes. When new homes are constructed, microscopic surface molds form on damp wood and sheetrock, which in turn attracts the beetles. In older homes, foreign grain beetles may be associated with plumbing leaks, condensation problems, or poor ventilation. None of the beetles in this category damage wood once the moisture condition is resolved, the surface molds disappear along with the beetles. (For more on this pest, see University of Kentucky Entomology Entfact-610).

Fig. 5: Foreign grain beetles are often mistaken for powderpost beetles (note the two small ‘knobs’ just behind the head).

Is the Infestation Active?

Powderpost beetle infestations often die out of their own accord. Therefore, it is important to know whether the infestation is active or inactive before taking action. Active infestations usually have powder that is the color of freshly sawed wood sifting from the exit holes. Compared to old, abandoned holes, new holes will not have taken on the weathered appearance of the surrounding wood (Figure 6). If flooring, cabinetry, etc. were previously stained, new emergence holes will have no traces of stain inside the holes. If accumulations of powder appear yellowed, caked, or covered with dust or debris, the damage is probably old. Careful observation may be required to distinguish new powder from powder dislodged out of old larval galleries by vibrations.

Fig. 6: Active versus inactive infestations. The former usually have fresh powder accompanying the emergence holes.

Another way to confirm that an infestation is active is to mark or seal any existing holes, sweep or vacuum up all powder, and recheck the wood for new holes and powder later on. Since most beetle emergence occurs in spring or summer, you may wish to wait until then to determine if new holes and fresh powder are present. This makes particular sense when attempting to determine whether an infestation is active during fall or winter.

Managing Infestations

Clients should know that there are a few different options for controlling powderpost beetles. Choosing the best approach depends on such factors as degree of damage, potential for re-infestation, and expense—both financial and emotional— that one is willing to bear. Powderpost beetles damage wood slowly. There is no need to act immediately for fear of risking the structural integrity of one’s home. A “wait and see” approach often makes the most sense, especially when there is uncertainty whether the infestation is active.

Prevention-Powderpost beetles, especially lyctids and bostrichids, typically enter buildings in lumber or manufactured articles, e.g. flooring, cabinetry, molding, paneling, furniture. Infestation occurs after wood is sawn into lumber and then sits in storage, or during transit and distribution. It is prudent for wood manufacturers to inspect incoming shipments for signs of beetles before they turn them into finished products. Wood that is suspect should not be used, especially if fresh emergence holes or powder is present. Many of the most serious infestations occur from using old lumber from a barn or woodpile to panel a room or build an addition.

Powderpost beetles lay their eggs only in bare, unfinished wood. Surfaces that are stained, varnished, painted or otherwise sealed are generally safe from future attack. Beetles emerging through such coatings were usually in the wood before the finish was applied. Although beetles emerging from finished wood can potentially re-infest by laying eggs in emergence holes, sealing the holes prevents this possibility.

Wood Replacement - Oftentimes, indications of beetle activity are limited to small sections of flooring or a few pieces of molding, trim, etc. The most efficient approach is often to remove and replace them, along with any boards or pieces directly adjacent as a precaution (Figure 7). This is especially true when the damage is due to lyctids or bostrichids. As noted, these powderpost beetles have a difficult time re-infesting wood after emerging indoors since, at that point, most surfaces are finished and starch and moisture is declining. When replacing sections of flooring, difficulties sometimes arise in matching the finish of the existing floor. If this is the case and the entire floor needs to be sanded and refinished, it is often prudent to wait at least six months in case more holes appear and additional boards need replacement.

Fig. 7: Replacing small sections of damaged wood can be an effective means of control.

Lethal Temperatures- Before wood is used for construction or manufacturing, most of the water is removed by air-drying or kiln drying. Kiln-dried lumber is heated for a period of hours to a temperature of about 125-140°F. This is sufficient to kill all stages of powderpost beetles that might be in the wood prior to heating. However, even wood that is properly kiln dried may become infested during subsequent storage and transit. The longer wood sits in a vulnerable condition, the greater the chance beetles will find and lay eggs on the lumber.

The pest control industry also uses heat to treat dwellings and furnishings for bed bugs. While it would be difficult to kill wood-boring beetles in ‘built in’ components like floors and cabinets, de-infestation of furniture and similar objects may be possible within a heat chamber. Pest control firms use stationary and portable heat chambers of various sizes. Temperatures employed or for powderpost beetles would be similar to those used for bed bugs (120-135°F), although exposure times might need to be longer, e.g., up to 24 hours, depending on wood thickness. Powderpost beetles can also be killed by placing smaller items such as wood carvings and picture frames in a deep freeze (0°F) for 3-7 days, again depending on wood thickness. For more on this topic, see University of Kentucky Entomology Entfact-640, Thermal Deinfestation of Household Items.

Moisture Control-Anobiid powderpost beetles in particular have high moisture requirements for survival. Wood moisture below 14 percent during spring and summer are generally unsuitable for development. Therefore, it is advisable to install a moisture barrier in damp crawl spaces that are infested. Covering the soil with polyethylene sheeting reduces movement of moisture into the substructure and reduces the threat of the infestation spreading upward into buildings. Other ways to lower wood moisture content in crawl spaces is to improve drainage and increase air circulation by installing foundation vents. Moisture meters utilized by pest control firms are handy tools for measuring the moisture content of wood and predicting the potential for infestation (Figure 8).

Fig. 8: Moisture meters are useful tools for predicting potential reinfestation.

Residual Insecticides - Various insecticides are used to treat beetle-infested wood. Insecticides known as borates are most widely used for this purpose. Borate sprays have the potential to penetrate and kill beetles within wood, as well as those entering or exiting the wood surface. Depth of penetration will depend on wood moisture content the damper the wood, the deeper the borates will penetrate. Two different formulations are used, Bora-Care and Tim-bor. Both products are virtually nontoxic and odorless.

For borates to penetrate the wood surface must be unfinished the spray will not penetrate paint, polyurethane, or other water repellent coatings. For this reason, the products have limited use for treating infestations within the living areas of homes. They are most often used for control and prevention of anobiid powderpost beetles infesting joists, beams, sills, studs, and other structural elements of buildings.

Borate sprays are sometimes used to treat beetle-infested hardwood floors, which first requires sanding to remove any finish. Besides being costly and disruptive, such treatments are seldom necessary since emerging lyctids and bostrichids are unlikely to re-infest. Additionally, in temperature-controlled buildings the moisture content of wood flooring tends to be around 10%. Borate penetration into wood this dry would be minimal and likely would have little effect on developing larvae.

Fumigation-Fumigation is an extreme and costly option for ridding a building of powderpost beetles. Homes undergoing fumigation are sealed with tarps and occupants must remain out for about three days. The concentration of gas is monitored and maintained at a specified level, and before being reoccupied, the building is ventilated.

Current fumigants containing sulfuryl fluoride are less effective against wood-boring beetles than those containing methyl bromide, which is no longer available. Consequently, de-infestation may not be successful. Structural fumigation may be warranted when infestations (typically of anobiids) have spread into walls, between floors, and other areas where access for surface treatment or wood removal is impractical. The best way to avoid such problems is early detection and one or more of the corrective actions mentioned earlier. Portable items such as furniture can be fumigated more effectively and at substantially lower cost than fumigating an entire building. Infested items are placed under tarps or in trailers or vaults to maintain gas concentration at the proper level. Some pest control companies offer this service to customers.

In Summary

Discovering powderpost beetles can be very concerning to homeowners. It is important to diagnose the problem correctly in order to avoid unnecessary effort and expense. Confirmation of the type of beetle, and whether the infestation is active are crucial first steps. Other considerations include location and extent of the infestation, and the type, age, moisture content, and condition/surface finish of the wood. Since powderpost beetles damage wood slowly, take time to consider the options available for remediation.

CAUTION: Some pesticides mentioned in this publication may not be legal in your area of the country. If in doubt, please consult your local cooperative extension service or regulatory agency. Furthermore, ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR THE PRODUCT YOU ARE USING.

Stag beetles are often very spectacular insects with huge mandibles, or "pincers," which give the insect its common name -- the mandibles on some look like the horns of a stag deer. Stag beetles are shiny brown or black, usually quite large, and have pronounced mandibles that are smaller in the females. As a matter of fact, their smaller, stouter pincers means the female can deliver a much more painful bite than the male.

Stag beetles are not venomous or harmful in any way. The larvae live in rotten stumps and logs and prey on the insects there. The adults often fly to lights on warm summer nights.

Scientific Name: The most common North American species are in the genus Lucanus

Size: Up to two inches in length

Habitat: Larvae live in rotten wood adults often fly to lights at night

Range: Throughout the USA and southern Canada

Notes: These beetles are harmless, although the females can deliver a pinch with their short, sharp mandibles.

Did You Know?

Stag beetles are often raised as pets, especially in Japan.

Stag Beetles: male on left, female on right

Arthropods & Insects - Lessons & Activities

NOTE: I created many of these lessons for a school-wide Adopt-An-Insect Unit for 5th-8th grade students. Although we don't do the school-wide project, I do use many of these lessons in my 8th grade classroom during our arthropod classification and insect unit. A list of useful resources for any insect/arthropod unit is included at the bottom of this page.

Bug Blitz - A Study in Biodiversity (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
I n past years our district had money for field trips to local nature areas for the Butterfly Brigade project however, budget cuts made it difficult to pay for transportation. I decided to adapt the project to a smaller level using our school garden, which is a quick walk to our front schoolyard! I started this new project in the fall of 2016 as part of my Ecology unit for my 8th grade students. The goal of project was to investigate biodiversity by documenting the bug populations that could be found there. This project was a huge hit with the students - not only catching/documenting the bugs, but also implementing their strategies in the spring as we redid the school garden.

Download the Bug Blitz Project Information file (includes links to the PPT and worksheets as well as information regarding learning standards.)

Adopt-An-Insect Report Worksheet (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
For this activity, students "adopt" a specific insect, then cruise the web to complete the worksheet with information about their minibeast. From food sources to life cycles, students gain insight into the life of their insect. Once the worksheets are completed, allow time for the students to analyze similarities and differences between their insects and those of their classmates.

Also available . My seventh grade students focus on Butterflies and Moths for the Adopt-An-Insect unit. The use the Butterflies of Illinois website to complete a Adopt-A-Butterfly Report (pdf). I prepared a list of common butterflies for our state using the ones provided on this site and have each student draw one for the report. I also provide the Adopt-A-Butterfly Report Requirements (pdf) to make sure they know what each section requires. The worksheet provides a map of Illinois since that the state we are in. You can paste a copy of your state map over the Illinois map.

Insect Scavenger Hunt (Adapted from a variety of sources)
Use these scavenger hunts as your students explore a local nature area or your school yard. The pdf version contains three scavenger hunts ranging from easy to hard.

Insect Challenge Project (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High School, Havana, IL)
Take the scavenger hunt to a new level! The page resembles a "Jeopardy" board. Items are divided into 4 topics with 10 items listed under each one. Students search a nature area or schoolyard for insects that match the descriptions listed on the worksheet. This project is assigned after we have discussed the vocabulary from our insect unit (anatomy, defense mechanisms, and metamorphosis) as well as each of the insect orders listed on the worksheet. Need a great resource for your insect unit? Buy a copy of Insects: A Science Activity Book by Pat and Barbara Ward (ISBN # - 1-58037-075-6). This book provides lots of great information pages as well as student Worksheets!

I usually allow 5-6 class periods for students to search our Nature Center garden and schoolyard. Students are also allowed to bring in insects they catch at home. They may earn a total of 220 points if they find insects that match all the descriptions on the worksheet. If you don't have a lot of time, reduce the amount of points needed, such as 150 points for an A+. Calculate the other grades based on the reduced point amount.

Students are required to identify each insect and its order (as specific as possible depending on the type of ID guides you have) to receive credit. Students must also tell me where they want to use a specific insect, since one insect could match two or three different boxes. After I've initialed the box/item, students release the insect and search for another one. Students can only use an insect for one box/item. If they want to use a grasshopper for two different items, they must catch two different grasshoppers.

• Since I only have 12 insect nets, I allow students to work in pairs during class. I warn them that if someone is not being a good partner (not helping, goofing around, etc.) that person will not be awarded any points.
• Students are allowed to bring in insects from home. I only award points to the student who brought them in rather than both people in the pair. If students go bug hunting with someone else, I tell them to find two of everything so both of them will earn points.
• I also discuss cheating with the students. They are not allowed to pass an insect to another student/pair as this is similar to giving someone an answer on an assignment or test. Students are also not allowed to catch someone else's insect right after it is released. I tell them to spend their time finding their own insects rather than picking up the leftovers. I have a few that ask, "How will you know?" I tell them that they better hope I don't catch them. If I catch them cheating, they will lose all the points they have collected to that point!
• Emphasize that this is a "catch and release" project. The goal is catch the insect, identify it, and release it back into the garden or schoolyard. Students should be careful not to injure or kill the insect. I also discourage students from bringing in moths and butterflies they catch at home as the wings might be damaged while stored in a container. I also tell them not to bring in insects that sting. We can catch these types of insects in the garden or spot them from a distance!

Birds & Caterpillars
I use this lesson as part of the Adopt-An-Insect unit to investigate defense mechanisms, such as camouflage, eyespots, bright colors, etc. Students take on the role of a bird in search of caterpillars, which are colored pasta pieces. After the hunt for food, students brainstorm a list of other defense mechanisms used by insects. They spend time looking for insects in the Nature Center garden and complete the Daily Defenders worksheet. Complete details and lesson worksheets are provided in the pdf download.

Musical Insects (T. (Trimpe) Tomm & C. Koehler, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Need ideas to spice up your music lessons? Use insects! Check out this list of ideas that can be used to bring the world of insects into your music classes.

Piece by Piece (T. (Trimpe) Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
During this project, students will create an insect puzzle - piece by piece-working from a sample photograph. This great lesson for math class challenges students to use scale to create one piece of a puzzle. When all the pieces are completed, students can piece them together to get the big picture!

The Butterfly Project (Sue Hallmark, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
During this project created by one of our junior high math teachers, students used rubber bands to enlarge photographs of butterflies.

Torn Insect Art (Submitted by Kelly Matlick, Illinois)
Challenge your students to create an insect using their knowledge of insect anatomy.

Insect Mania (T. (Trimpe) Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
One requirement of the Adopt-An-Insect project in 7th grade is to complete an Insect Mania project. I have provided several ideas for insect related projects including Insect Jeopardy, Butterfly Fact Cards, and more! The projects created by my students are shared with K-4 students at our elementary school.

Megabeast (T. (Trimpe) Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
During this project, students are challenged to create models of insects from the ancient world. Using an insect specimen and a scale process, students will design and construct a model that is ten times the size of the original.

(1) Students will need to obtain a preserved specimen of an insect or detailed photograph.
(2) Allow time for students to draw a detailed diagram of their insect. The diagram should be labeled with as much information as possible, such as overall length, width, girth, wingspan as well as details of the parts found on your insect. Accurate measurements are important for an accurate finished project.
(3) All measurements need to be converted to scale measurements for your model. Students should record their calculations in the space provided in Part B and note the new measurements on their diagram in Part A.
(4) Challenge students to create a 3-D “megabeast” model of their insect using available materials. The model should be as realistic as possible and be able to hang from a ceiling hook. Students will need to consider using materials that will be able to create a large project with as little weight as possible. A few suggestions are paper mache, tissue paper, sheets of plastic, fabric, and netting.

A Bug's Life (T. (Trimpe) Tomm & L. Range, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Challenge your students to develop a presentation for their classmates related to life in "Bug Land", a land where the people have been magically transformed into insects. Students utilize Internet resources to investigate their insect (foods, habitats, adaptations, etc.) and work as a team to create a 5-10 minute presentation.

Adopt-An-Insect Bingo Game (T. (Trimpe) Tomm, Havana Junior High School, Havana, IL)
I use this game to review the vocabulary covered during our annual Adopt-An-Insect unit. The download contains a bingo card as well as clue cards. I print the clues on an overhead transparency, then cut them apart and put on the overhead during the game. I give the kids a roll of Smarties to use as markers, but warn them that don't get to eat them unless they are good. I also challenge the kids tell me what each term means when they read off their bingos. I encourage the students to make notes on their bingo card during the game so they can use the page to study for the unit test.

Also available . World of Insects Word Find Puzzle (pdf) by Tracy (Trimpe) Tomm - Challenge your students to find all the words in the word list! Once they are done with the puzzle, have them create a concept map on the back of the page using at least 15 of the terms in the puzzle.

Internet Scavenger Hunts & Other Ideas
Eyewitness Insect Video Quiz (pdf) - I have my students take notes during the video to help them on the quiz or you can have them complete the quiz as they watch the video (it goes in order).
Insect Jokes Page (pdf) - Use this page of bug jokes for extra credit or just extra laughs!
Internet Bug Hunt (pdf) - Use the sites listed in the Insect Links section of the Kid Zone to learn more about insects!
.Adopt-An-Insect Word Find (pdf) - Challenge your students to find all the insect-related terms and names of common insects in this word search puzzle. - Explore this site for lesson ideas and bug-related activities! - What's Bugging You? (pdf) - Download this activity booklet for lesson ideas exploring those little things that bug us - pests.

Crickets in the Classroom - Visit this site for an assortment of ideas to use common field and house crickets to teach measurement and observation. The unit also includes basic information on cricket biology and introduces students to the scientific literature.

Discovery School Insect World - Information, lessons, and links for the Insect World video!

Insectclopedia -Visit this site for a large collection of links to insect lesson plans!

Kentucky Entomology for Kids - Visit this site for great resources from games to information. They offer newsletters, links, detailed information, and lots of fun things for kids! Don't miss the Bug-Go game!

Kid Zone: Adopt-An-Insect Links - Visit my page with links to excellent online resources for students (and teachers). In addition to general sites, I have selected links for each specific order.

Orkin Learning Center - Explore this area of the Orkin website for lesson ideas for your insect unit. You can also schedule a visit from the Orkin man for your classroom!

Wings, Stings, and Leggy Things (Insects of Illinois) - A great resource for background information on insects as well as lesson ideas and puzzles. Visit Illinois Department of Natural Resource's online ordering page to find insect-related materials (activity books and posters) for your bug festival or classroom projects.

ZOOM Insect Printouts - Visit this page for coloring pages for a variety of insects.

Printed Resources :

Golden Guide Identification Guides - A great tool for young entomologists! Check the “New & Used” prices at Amazon to get a set for your classroom. Insects - ISBN: 030724055X Butterflies & Moths - ISBN: 1582381364

Insectaganza Excitement - Check out the four entomology manuals for K-6 students offered by the 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System! The set of 4 books costs $15.95 and a great value for all the information and activities included! Check with your local extension office to see if they will provide copies for you!

Insects: A Science Activity Book by Pat and Barbara Ward
Published by Mark Twain Media, Inc. (#CD-1813)
ISBN # - 1-58037-075-6

Insect Identification Guide by Gary A. Dunn and Dianna K. Dunn
Published by the Young Entomologists’ Society, ISBN #1-884256-16-3

Insects by Edward P. Ortleb and Richard Cadice
Published by Milliken Publishing Company, ISBN #1-55863-095-3

Insects Thematic Unit by Kathee Gosnell
Published by Teacher Created Materials, Inc., ISBN # 1-55734-592-9

Life Science by Daryl Vriesenga - A great resource for any 5-8 biology unit!
Published by Instructional Fair (#IF8756), Grand Rapids, MI
ISBN #: 0-88012-828-3

Mighty Miniatures: Introducing Young Entomologists by Michael Jeffords and Susan Post
Published by Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 E Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL 61820

Identify to Order

NOTE: This is a rough guide and does not include all insect orders. The main focus is on insects common in gardens. Common insects in each order are listed under the order. If you have an Android smartphone, this app can be helpful for identifying insect to order.

- Bees, wasps, parasitoids, ants

Insect in the order Hymenoptera have 2 pairs of wings (4 wings total), except worker ants which have no wings. They have a thin waist connecting their thorax and the lower abdomen. Females have prominent ovipositor, mostly this is used for laying eggs but is modified in some groups to be a stinger. Their antennae are usually longer than their head and have greater than 10 segments.

- All flies, including syrphids

Insects in the order Diptera have only one pair of wings (2 wings total). Their antennae are generally shorter than their head.

Insects in the order Neuroptera have long, thin, cylindrical bodies. Their two pairs of wings are generally the same size. When at rest, the wings are either held above the body in a roof-like formation. They have large, compound eyes and chewing mouthparts.

- All beetles including lady beetles, leaf beetles, soldier beetles

All insects in the order Coleoptera have hard outer wings.

- Aphids, assassin bugs, leaf hoppers

There are many, varied insects in the order Hempitera. They have one very useful defining characteristic: their mouthparts are shaped like a straw.

- Dragonflies and damsel flies

Odonata is divided into two sub-orders. One is the dragonflies and the other is the damsel flies. Both have long, thin bodies and four wings. Dragonflies keep their wings extended always, even when they are resting. Damsel flies are not as robust looking as dragonflies and they fold their wings over their back when they aren't flying.

They have 4 wings, covered with scales. Their mouthparts are shaped like a long straw and called a proboscis it is kept curled up.

Larvae are commonly known as caterpillars. Caterpillars are soft bodied and can appear to have more than six legs because the have extra appendages called prolegs.

- Grasshoppers, katydids, crickets

Juveniles and adults have large pincers on the end of their abdomen. They are slender bodied and have bead-like antennae. Their wings are short and only cover a fraction of their abdomen.


The average flight duration was 0.17 s across all taxa, translating to a speed of 0.41 m/s −1 . Substantial variation in the flight duration was observed with interquartile range of 0.065–0.237 s and could be due to both the speed and direction of flight. Longer flights may involve spiralling as well as turning behaviour. Flight duration differed between species (F5, 4773 = 19.52, p < 0.001), with M. persicae (0.04 s 1.75 m/s −1 ) and P. chrysocephala (0.076 s 1.0 m/s −1 ) exhibiting shorter than average flight durations and thus higher speeds.

For each recording, up to 52 features were extracted (Table 1) and all show significant differences between species, on average (Table 3). Furthermore, with the exception of the amplitude index (of the raw audio), all features showed a greater variability among species than with either of the environmental covariates (largest F-statistic is associated with species differences, Table 2). However, there is considerable variability within each feature reducing the chance that any one feature could in isolation discriminate between species without inclusion of additional features (Table S2).

  • To adjust for confounding, the covariates humidity and temperature were included in the model. Significant terms are highlighted in green. F statistics reported are of type II. Features are ordered by the size of the F statistic associated with dropping species from the model (from largest to smallest). Where necessary, variables were transformed as listed in Table 1.

Species classification

Classification to species level has varying levels of success with random forest models. An overall out-of-bag error rate of 20.62% (17.88%) on the training set and an error rate of 21.19% (17.75%) on the validation set including (excluding) observations with missing values suggest reasonable success in identifying individual species. A summary of the class-specific error rates is given in the supplementary information (Figure S4). Random forest classification is better viewed in the ensemble framework within which it is derived. Figure 2 shows the distribution of the maximal class probability with an indication of whether the maximal probability coincided with the true underlying species. For those species with low misclassification rates (D. platanoidis, B. aeneus, P. chrysocephala), a direct correspondence is seen with high maximal class probability (a median of 0.69, 0.62, 0.80, respectively). Furthermore, for those observations of these species that are misclassified, the maximal class probability is lower (a median of 0.42, 0.46, 0.40), indicating greater uncertainty in the final classification. Although the certainty in the correct classification of A. fabae is lower (median of 0.51), there is still a pronounced increase in uncertainty when the classification is wrong (median of 0.39). By contrast, the certainty of classification for S. avenae and P. testudinaceus does not change depending upon whether the classification is correct or not (a median of 0.50, 0.51 for correct classifications and a median of 0.48, 0.43 for incorrect classifications).

Features for classification

Figures 3 and S5 illustrate the relative importance of the different features in the classification model. The dominant frequency comes out top in both the accuracy (a measure of how well the prediction improves) and the Gini index (a measure of how well class separation improves) when the variable is included in the models. The fundamental frequency is a close second in terms of accuracy. It is clear that the higher-order harmonics contribute little in terms of feature importance. By contrast, a number of summary indices of both the frequency and time domain are highlighted as important. These include the spectral and acoustic entropy, Bioacoustic Index (3) over 50–300 Hz, the RMS and power. Figure 3(C) shows that the importance of these features differs by species with the acoustic entropy important for identifying P. chrysocephala and the fundamental frequency important for B. aeneus and the dominant frequency for A. fabae.

Harmonics alone are not enough

A comparison of out-of-bag error rates shows that classification improves when using all features of both the frequency and time domain compared with using specific subsets of feature variables (Fig. S6(A)). Specifically, the best out-of-bag accuracy rates on the validation set, where missing values are imputed, are seen when using all 52 features (78.9%) and when using the 27 features extracted after detrending (79.4%). A lower accuracy is seen when using the 25 features extracted before detrending (76.8%) and when using only the 20 harmonic features (76.8%). Marginal improvements are seen when supplementing the harmonic features with the additional frequency spectra indices (77.6%). Although the minimal feature sets of 3 and 5 chosen features result in lower accuracy (60.0% and 68.5%), the minimal set of chosen 14 features performs relatively well (75.6%). It can be seen that when imputation methods are used, the error rates tend to increase by about 2.5–4%.

Further investigation of the class-specific error rates (Fig. S6(B)) shows that the high error rates of the minimal feature sets of 3 and 5 chosen features correspond with poor prediction of pollen beetles in particular. The predictive performance of black bean aphids increases in the feature sets restricted to the harmonics only, 75.0% class-specific error rate compared with 44.2% in the full 52 feature set.

Features for within-order classification differ between order classification

Features important in classifying between Hemiptera and Coleoptera align very closely with those identified in the full model (Fig. 4). However, when data are restricted to a single order, differing patterns of feature importance are revealed. When focussed on aphid species only, the prominent features are the maximum amplitude, the amplitude range and the power or RMS (accuracy decrease), indicating a preference for features of the audio rather than the harmonics. The highly influential features of the full classification reduce to a mid or low level of importance in the within-order classification. Similarly, focussing only on classifying between beetle species (albeit on a much smaller dataset), the key features of importance identified are the spectral and acoustic entropy and to a lesser extent, the bioacoustic index (at 50–300 Hz), the frequency of the most prominent harmonic and the temporal entropy, thus indicating a preference for features of the frequency spectra. Thus, harmonics such as the dominant frequency and fundamental frequency appear to be key in identifying between orders, but alternative features of the audio and spectrum are required to identify to a species level.

Classifying unknown species results in less certain predictions

In general, the class probability for a misclassified observation is lower than that for a correctly classified observation (Fig. 5(A)). Unobserved species are most commonly classified as sycamore aphids or pollen beetles, likely due to the larger number of observations in these two classes (Fig. 5(B)). Lower predictive certainty generally persists when investigating the model performance on predictions of a previously unobserved class (Fig. 5(B)). It is noticeable that when either cabbage stem flea beetles or English grain aphids are excluded from the training set, the class predictions remain relatively high, resulting in reasonable certainty that these species are in fact sycamore aphids or pollen beetles, respectively. When sycamore aphids are excluded from the training set, they are mostly allocated to the English grain aphid (62.3%) with some to the pollen beetle class (20.9%).

Identify an insect (beetle?) - Biology

The following photographs of insects are provided to assist students in basic insect identification. Be aware that dichotomous keys, similar to those used for order classification, also exist for separating insects into families and even further into genera and species. The use of such keys is beyond the scope of this book in most cases. However, in some instances, these may need to be referred to for the identification of less common insects. For the purposes of this text, once a student has correctly placed an insect into its proper order, comparison to color photographs or to other properly identified specimens (such as those in reference collections) can be a productive method of assigning common names to collected insects. In addition to the following color photographs, many field guides can assist in family and common name classification.

All 4-H and FFA students in Indiana are required to recognize order and common names for the following list of insects. To assist in identification, a color photo of each of these is provided together with a brief description of the insect, its biology, pest status, and life cycle.

Information regarding selected pest insects in their damaging stage, together with life history and control recommendations is provided in an accompanying text How to Manage Radical Bugs, ID 403.

Purdue Extension Entomology, 901 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4554

Mark Buckner: Helping future generations understand and preserve native bees | CALS

Mark Buckner is a Ph.D. student working closely with Bryan Danforth, professor of entomology, to grow the public&rsquos understanding of pollinators beyond managed honeybees &mdash most notably on the lesser-known mason bees.

Pollen-sized technology protects bees from deadly insecticides

A Cornell-developed technology provides beekeepers, consumers and farmers with an antidote for deadly pesticides, which kill wild bees and cause beekeepers to lose around a third of their hives every year on average.

Two new beetles from summit forests in the Lesser Antilles

Two newly discovered species of beetles from the mountaintops of St. Kitts and Nevis have been named for a famous Nevisian scientist and a recently departed Kittitian civil servant. DuPorte&rsquos Ground Beetle (Platynus duportei Liebherr and Ivie) and Racquel&rsquos Ground Beetle (Platynus racquelae Liebherr and Ivie) were named to honor the McGill University (Montreal, Canada) insect morphologist Professor Ernest Melville DuPorte (1891&ndash1981), born in Nevis (, and Racquel Williams-Ezquea (1983&ndash2018), recently of The Government of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis&rsquo Forestry Unit. Professors James Liebherr of Cornell University and Michael Ivie of Montana State University described the new species in the March, 2021, issue of the international journal Coleopterists Bulletin ( The two species occupy the northernmost geographic limit of a species group of Carabidae that is distributed throughout the Lesser Antillean island chain, with their relatives in South America. They are both restricted to the uppermost remnant montane forests on their respective islands, and enhance our biological knowledge of this critically endangered habitat.

That Night 46 Million Grasshoppers Went to Vegas

In a new study, ecologists document the impact that the world&rsquos brightest city has on the insect population.

Invasive Insects


Additional Research Studies

Additional Emerging Threats

The following invasive insects are considered potential threats to North American forests based on their interceptions at ports or in manufactured goods. Rapid detection and response to newly arrived insects helps facilitate eradication. Here’s a list of potential pests of greatest concern with links to external information resources:

  • Smaller Japanese Cedar Longhorned Beetle (Callidiellum rufipenne) attacking cedars and junipers (Callidiellum villosulum) (Sirex noctillo) attacking pines (Xyleborus glabratus) attacking red bay and sassafras

If you don’t know about Cooperative Extension, you’re missing out on one of the great unsung public services in the United States. For more than 100 years, Land Grant Universities in the U.S., as part of the requirements for their federal funding, have operated and continue to operate public-outreach programs known as “cooperative extension.” As the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture explains, “extension provides non-formal education and learning activities to people throughout the country—to farmers and other residents of rural communities as well as to people living in urban areas. It emphasizes taking knowledge gained through research and education and bringing it directly to the people to create positive changes.”

And entomology is a key component of most cooperative extension programs. Such programs operate in every state, and there is probably a local county office near you. They’re a great resource for insect identification for growers, landscapers, and gardeners—and especially for truly local expertise.

To find your local cooperative extension office and contact info (and put your tax dollars to work), try any of the following:

County Extension Offices (National Pesticide Information Center)

Land-Grant University Website Directory (USDA- National Institute of Food and Agriculture)

Watch the video: Insects for Kids. Have fun learning all about different kinds of bugs! Parts of an insect (June 2022).


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