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Lab 2. Identification Part 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 the order level insect specimens you have collected and preserved.


1.  Review

Before lab,  review the video above, and the Spot-ID Narrated Slide Show 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. QR Code Reader

If you do not already have one, install a free QR code app on your smartphone.  This may allow you to access information about the insect specimens in lab more quickly.

4. Lab Equipment and Access

A brief overview will be given of using microscopes and taxonomic keys, as well as accessing the lab outside of regular lab sessions.

5. Resources

6. Demonstrations and Specimens

  • 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 this in the Lab Practical Exam 1.
  • Work through either the keys in your textbook, or the UC Berkeley BioKeys using your katydid specimen (i.e. a known specimen) to get used to using the keys.

7. Lab Exercise: Identify Specimens in 5 Orders

Using either the keys in your textbook, or the UC Berkeley BioKeys, identify preserved specimens collected from lab 1 (and outside of lab) to order level.  To get 10 points towards your Insect Collection:

RUBRIC – 10 points totaled from:

  • 1 point for each specimen correctly mounted and identified to order.  Specimens need to be from 5 different orders including the katydid (Order: Orthoptera) from lab 1.
  • 1 point for each temporary or permanent label on each correctly identified specimen.

Show your specimens to the TA for grading before leaving lab.

DE STUDENTS refer to the course Moodle site for instructions on how to electronically submit this exercise.


You will need the following materials for this lab:

  1. Preserving gear (specimen box; pinning block; specimen viewing block; cut pieces of cardstock [specimen drying supports]; a few pins and paper points; spreading board)
  2. Labels, either temporary (cut pieces of paper) or permanent (printed from “Collection Instructions”)
  3. Smartphone or computer, to access UC Berkeley BioKeys and class website.
  4. If you do not have a smartphone or computer, you will need to use the textbook: How To Know The Insects 3rd edition, by R. G. Bland and H. E. Jaques
  5. Stereoscopic microscope (provided in lab) or hand-held magnifier