University of Florida

Insect and Related Animal Identification Key


Q: Which of the following 4 choices BEST describes the foliage or fruit inhabiting insect or related animal?

A:

  1. Wingless . . . go to Key A
  2. Wing buds present; i.e., wings not fully developed . . . go to Key B
  3. Two pairs of fully developed wings present . . . go to Key C
  4. One pair of fully developed wings present . . . go to Key D

Key A

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Legless and scale-like, on the underside of the leaf . . . go to Whitefly, silverleaf, nymph
  2. Caterpillar with sucker-like prolegs in back . . . go to Key E
  3. Elongate and soft-bodied, with or without legs in front but legless in back . . . go to Key H
  4. Legs present; body not elongate . . . go to Key I

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Key B

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Body shape round or oval, color variable . . . go to Stink bug, nymph
  2. Body shape oblong, body orange or red, legs black . . . go to Leaffooted bugs, nymph
  3. Body elongate, usually green; run rapidly when disturbed . . .go to Tomato plant bug

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Key C

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Wings white, fringed, or covered with scales . . . go to Key J
  2. Wings clear and membranous . . . go to Key K
  3. First pair of wings thick and shell-like. Short, paired mouthparts used for chewing . . .
    go to Key L
  4. First pair of wings leathery at base, clear at tip. Long, pointed mouthparts used for sucking . . .
    go to Key M

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Key D

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Upper surface of head and adjacent thorax black with conspicuous yellow markings . . .
    go to Leafminer, adult
  2. Small (1/8 in.), grayish black fly without distinctive markings . . . go to Shore flies
  3. Larger (> or = 3/8 in.), more robust, grayish brown flies . . . Muscid flies... go to House flies

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Key E

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Three pairs of prolegs; green caterpillar with a longitudinal white stripe . . . go to Looper
  2. Five pairs of prolegs; small bluish, active worm in fruit, usually at the stem end or in foliar blotch mines . . .go to Tomato pinworm
  3. Five pairs of prolegs, but not as above . . .go to Key F

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Key F

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Head furrows (sutures) forming an inverted "Y" and body covered with tiny "microspines", solitary fruit feeders, color brownish to greenish and striped with alternating bands, including a dark pair on top (dorsal) surface . . .go to Tomato fruitworm
  2. Head sutures also forming an inverted "Y" but body smooth, not covered with microspines. Either green or mostly black caterpillars, gregarious foliage feeders when small, solitary foliage or fruit feeders when large . . . go to Key G
  3. Head sutures forming an inverted "V". Darkish, greasy-looking caterpillars, sometimes with chevron-like markings on back, feeding on seedlings at night and usually hidden by day . . .
    go to Cutworms
  4. Head sutures forming an inverted "V". Large, green, foliage-feeding caterpillar with conspicuous horn at the rear end of body . . . go to Tomato hornworm

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Key G

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Body mottled green, usually with light bands down the side, and a dark mole-like mark above the 2nd pair of legs behind the head. Maximum length 1 1/4 in. . . .go to Armyworm, beet
  2. A yellow line along side of body interrupted by a black spot behind 3rd pair of legs; black triangles above the yellow line; head yellowish brown and mottled. Maximum length 2 in. . . .
    go to Armyworm, southern
  3. Head dark brown or black. Each triangular mark on abdomen cut by a white line. Problem only in north Florida . . . go to Armyworm, yellowstriped

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Key H

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Active insect with 3 pairs of legs, often orange with black markings and chewing mouthparts . . . go to Lady beetles, larva (beneficial)
  2. Less active, brown or greenish, pincer-like mouthparts; sometimes with debris attached to body . . . go to Green lacewing, larva (beneficial)
  3. Legless yellow maggot with internal black mouth hooks. Found inside serpentine leaf mine . . . go to Leafminers
  4. Legless white maggot with black mouthhooks, found inside ripe or rotten fruit . . . go to Pomace (fruit) flies (Drosophila) larva

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Key I

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Tiny, body one unit marked with 2 or more spots. Usually associated with silk and causing stippling and desiccation of leaves. All but smallest individuals with 4 pairs of legs . . . go to Spider mites
  2. Microscopic, yellow, wedge-shaped with 2 pairs of legs, on foliage associated with bronzing-type injury . . . go to Tomato russet mite
  3. Body divided into head and abdominal region, size variable but usually not tiny, with 4 pairs of legs . . . go to Spiders, predatory (beneficial)
  4. Three pairs of legs, small, lemon-shaped insects on underside of leaf with two tubes (cornicles) at rear of abdomen . . . go to Aphids: Green peach or Potato

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Key J

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Small (1/16 in.), yellow-bodied insect with wings covered with white waxy powder . . . go to Whitefly, silverleaf, adult (Geminivirus vector)
  2. Larger insect, wings covered with scales . . . go to Moths
  3. Tiny, elongate yellow insect with narrow, fringed wings, often in flowers . . . go to Flower thrips

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Key K

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Delicate greenish or brownish insects with large clear lacy wings held roof-like over body, about 3/4 in. long . . . go to Green lacewing, adult (beneficial)
  2. Small insect with large wings held roof-like over body and two tubes (cornicles) at rear . . . go to Aphids, adult
  3. Wings with more than one vein, small wasp with antlike head and relatively long antennae . . . go to Parasitic wasps, Braconids
  4. Wings with only one small vein in top of each wing, tiny insect . . . go to Parasitic wasps

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Key L

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Front wings yellow-green with three transverse green bands or green with yellow spot . . . go to Cucumber beetle, banded and Cucumber beetle, striped
  2. Front wings semi-hemispherical, often red with black markings or black with red markings . . . go to Lady beetles, adult (beneficial)
  3. Small black beetles with enlarged hind legs made for hopping . . . go to Flea beetles

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Key M

Continue to select the best description from below:

  1. Green or brown, oval or shield-shaped, 1/2 - 2/3 in. long . . . go to Stink bug
  2. Black or dark brown, long bodied, tibia (segment above "ankle") of hind leg sometimes flattened . . . go to Leaffooted bugs
  3. Black and white, small (1/4 in.) with oval or oblong body . . . go to Minute pirate bug (beneficial)
  4. Body black, oval or oblong, femur (leg segment closest to body) expanded, usually jumps when disturbed . . . go to Garden fleahopper
  5. Body brown, oblong, runs or flies when disturbed . . . go to Tomato plant bug

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