Lab 2: Identification 1 – Insect Orders

In this lab you will learn to use spot ID characters and dichotomous keys for identifying specimens in the major orders of insects.


Main objectives of this lab are to help you:

  1. distinguish between insect and non-insect arthropods
  2. learn to identify major orders of insects based on key characters
  3. identify (to order level) and preserve 5 insect specimens you have collected


1.  Review

Before lab, review: “Lab 2 Details” on the course Moodle site; the video above; appropriate parts of the Insect Collection Instructions, and the “Resources” below to prepare.

2.  Bring Materials for Lab

See the list at the bottom of this page (IMPORTANT: if you do not bring these materials, you will not be be able to complete this lab).

3. Lab Equipment and Overview

A brief overview will be given of microscope use and identification of the most common insect orders.

4. Resources

5. Demonstrations and Specimen Identification

  • Use the resources listed above while you look over the demonstration boxes.  Familiarize yourself with the key characters used to separate the orders.  Take note of the diversity of insects included within each order.
  • Remember, you will be tested on ID to order, and the characters used to do so in Lab Practical Exam 1.
  • Work through the UC Berkeley BioKeys using a known specimen (e.g. your katydid) to get used to using the keys.

6. Lab Exercise: Identify/Preserve Specimens in 5 Orders

You will begin identifying the specimens you have collected.  You will be graded on your identification and preparation of specimens from 5 different orders.  For details of this lab exercise, please go to the ENT 425 Moodle site. DE Students, please go to the ENT 425 Moodle site to see how to get graded.

Keep in Mind: Lab exercises are worth 10% of the course grade, so it is important to participate in these.


You will need the following materials for this lab:

  1. Collecting gear (signed out this lab = net; killing jar; ethyl acetate squeeze bottle; trowel; tote bag)
  2. Preserving gear (signed out this lab = specimen box; pinning block; specimen viewing block; cut pieces of cardstock [specimen drying supports]; pins and paper points; spreading board; vials)
  3. Temporary labels (hand-written in pencil only on small pieces of paper)
  4. Smartphone or computer, to access UC Berkeley BioKeys and class website.
  5. Stereoscopic microscope (provided in lab) or hand-held magnifier