Interactive Keys to the Aquatic Insect Orders of North America

If your specimen has wings, go here. . .

Key to Adults

This key covers sexually mature winged adults and Ephemeroptera subimagoes. It also includes the wingless order Collembola and accommodates wingless but none-the-less sexually mature adults (e.g., certain Hemiptera) as well as adults with shortened or reduced wings (e.g., some Orthoptera, Plecoptera, Hemiptera, Diptera, Trichoptera, and Lepidoptera).

If your specimen is an active immature, found in or on the water or along the shore, go here. . .

Key to Nymphs and Larvae

This key covers active aquatic, semi-aquatic, or terrestrial nymphs of the hemimetabolous orders and larvae of the holometabolous orders.

If your specimen has externally developing wing pads, go here. . .

Key to Pupae and Nymphs

This key includes hemimetabolous nymphs and holometabolous pupae - those immature stages with externally developing wing pads - either in or on the water or along the shore.


Quick Tip! The easiest way to go through the keys is by using the Find Best feature, observing the illustrations and photographs, and reading the fact sheets. Occasional pruning of reduntant features is also useful.

An online vesion of this key is available from the University of Minnesota Insect Collection website, at

Periodic updates and any corrections to the keys will be posted here. Online access will also soon be available through the Lucidcentral website.