Don Wales
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Common Insect Identification Key
Red Deer Region

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Instructions
  • Read the pairs or triplets of statements and select the best one.
  • Go to the place in the key indicated by the number in the brackets.
  • Click on the insect name to see a picture for confirmation.
  • If your "bug" doesn't match any of the descriptions then send Don Wales an e-mail.
Please Note : this Identification Key is based on enquiries from the public that
have been received by Red Deer College instructors over the past 10-20 years.
1. Found inside a house or building
1. Found outside in the yard
2.
18.
2. Eight or more legs
2. Six legs only
3.
9.
3. Eight legs
3. More than eight legs
4.
7.
4. Large spider - 2 bumps on abdomen - looks like a cat's face
4. Medium spider - dark with red markings on abdomen (not endemic)
4. Not as above
Orb-weaver Spider
Black Widow Spider

5.
5. Medium to large spider - may be local or arrivd with fruit from the grocery
5. Extremely small, spider-like (not a true spider)

2.
6. Round red/orange body, huge numbers, long front legs
6. Round body, 1 pair of claws, usually solitary
6. Appears to be infesting house plants
Clover Mites
Pseudoscorpion
7. Long body, flat with many legs
7. Oval body
8.
Pill Bug
8. long, flat body, many legs
8. Long, cylindrical body, many more legs
Centipede
Millipede
9. Obvious wings
9. Wings not obvious
10.
11.

10. Small moth (1.2 cm), hairy fringe on wings
10. Larger moth (1.6-2.8 cm) near stored food
10. Not a moth - maybe a white-fly, winged aphid, etc

Clothes Moth
Pyralid Moth
11. Extremely small (5mm or smaller)
11. Larger, clearly visible to the naked eye
12.
13.
  12. Size of a pin head (up to 5mm), flat laterally (side to side)
12. Size of a pin head (up to 5mm), flat dorso-ventral (up and down)
12. Smaller than above, associated with itching
Flea
Bed Bug
Lice
  13. Flattened insects repelled by the light
13. Not flattened insects, often attracted to light
14.
15.
  14. Silvery scales, three long tail filaments
14. Leathery wing covers, variable size
Silverfish
Cockroach
  15. Flattened sideways (grasshopper-like)
15. Oval bodies, beetle or ant-like
Camel Cricket
16.
  16. Ant-like. A huge ant
16. Beetle or bug- like
Carpenter Ant
17.
  17. Oval beetle, slightly hairy, light stripe on back
17. Longer beetle found in or around dried stored food
17. Oval, flat , triangle shape on back, red and black
17. Wingless houseplant pest
Carpet Beetle
Flour Beetle
Maple Bug
  18. Associated with trees, shrubs, vegetables, flowers
18. Present in yard but not likely an infestation

19.
  19. More than six legs
19. Six legs
20.
21.
  20. Long, flattened, many legs centipede
20. Long, cylindrical, many more legs millipede
20. Oval, roll into ball when disturbed
20. Large spider - 2 bumps on abdomen - looks like a cat's face
Centipede
Millipede
Pill Bug
Orb-weaver Spider
  21. Attracted to house lights or nearby lights
21. Does not appear to be associated with lights
22.
25.
  22. Large, over 2 cm long
22. Small, under 1.5 cm long
23.
24.
  23. Large, brown, leathery wings, triangle on back
23. Oval beetle with smooth shiny wing covers
Giant Water Bug
Diving Beetle
  24. About 10 mm long, flat black water bugs
24. About 15 mm long, keel shaped bugs
Waterboatman
Backswimmer
  25. Appearing in and around cut firewood
25. Not necessarily as above
26.
29.
  26. Ant-like and large
26. Not ant-like
Carpenter Ant
27.
  27. Antennae longer than body
27. Antennae shorter than body
Long Horned Woodborer
28.
  28. Wings present, long sting-like abdominal spine
28. Wings not obvious, metallic coloration
Horntail
Metallic Woodborer
  29. Still haven't identified the "bug" ?

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