Can you identify this insect for me?

Can you identify this insect for me?

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Does anyone know what this is? I have lived in this area of northern Utah, USA for over 30 years and played with insects, snakes and spiders growing up here. However, until this week, I have never seen this insect before, nor anyone else we have asked. Suddenly they are all over our porch, patio, trampoline and house. This one is about the size of a lady bug, but we have seen some about double that size.

At first we thought it might be a beetle, but their shells are not bifurcated. Looking underneath, they have a long thin tube that they fold into their body that appears to be their mouths. We thought a weird tick, but they only have 6 legs. Can't seem to find anything similar online either.

Does anyone know, what it is?

Definitely a nymph of some species of true bug (order Hemiptera), most likely in the suborder Heteroptera (i.e., the shield bugs, stink bugs, assassin bugs, etc.) and family Pentatomidae.

For example, see these photos of nymphs of similar species:

From L->R: Podisus maculiventris, Troilus luridus, Glaucias amyoti, Cosmopepla lintneriana, Carpocoris purpureipennis, Murgantia histrionica

Using yet another species, Piezodorus lituratus, as an example, you can see how a Pentatomidae nymph typically develops to maturity:


As to your species…

This site lists Cosmopepla lintneriana, Chinavia hilaris, Podisus placidus, Chlorochroa rossiana, and Sehirus cinctus as species of Pentatomidae that live in Utah. None of their nymphs looks quite right, though your specimen reminds me most of a stripe-less Podisus. That might be a good jumping off place for further digging…

  • As you can see, there are many species with similar nymphs, and various instars within species even have fairly great variation.

I can't find a great match yet, but I can keep looking. I'll update if I find one.


Do you already know what you have, or want more information? We have a number of factsheets available. For descriptions of a variety of insects and related organisms, and (if an indoor or outdoor pest) control recommendations, click on this link below:

In the Northeast, several kinds of outdoor insects are attracted to houses and building walls in autumn, searching for sheltered places to overwinter. Any that find gaps or openings can end up inside. During winter and spring on warm days you may see them indoors. Click on the LIST OF FACTSHEETS for information on any of these – as well as many other indoor pests, and outdoor species found on garden plants and trees.

Recent News:

Giant Hornets There is a lot of concern about an Asian hornet in a few places in western USA, but as of May 2020 it is not found in eastern USA. All of the “giant hornets” we have been sent photos of in New York and nearby areas, are instead actually the European hornet (Vespa crabro), which has distinctive markings of black and yellow on the abdomen, and red-brown color on the front of the body. This Pennsylvania State University factsheet has information about European hornets:

Spotted Lanternfly
A new invasive pest of orchards, vineyards, and tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus), the Spotted Lanternfly (“SLF”) has been found in southeastern Pennsylvania and Virginia, and is continuing to show up in new locations in 2018, including 2 sites in New York State. For a recent news article see:
For updates on Spotted Lanternfly infestations and other information, see:
In New York State, anyone that suspects they have found SLF is encouraged to send a photo to [email protected] (Note the location where the insect was found, egg masses, and/or infestation signs)
Anyone that visits the Pennsylvania or New Jersey Quarantine Areas should thoroughly inspect their vehicle, luggage and gear for SLF and egg masses before leaving and scrape off all egg masses.

Other Topics of Interest:

Biocontrol Bytes – For a blog from an Integrated Pest Management specialist, designed to inform New Yorkers who are trying to control pests – on farms, in backyards, in businesses, or in homes – about the role that biological control plays (or could play) in successful integrated pest management, see: For info about that blog:

Spotted Wing Drosophila– an invasive fly species has been causing fruit damage in the Northeast. Raspberries, blackberries, late-maturing blueberries, day-neutral strawberries, elderberries, cherries, and peaches are among the vulnerable crops. For details see: Because this species resembles other fruit flies, we recommend that you make sure the ID is verified before doing any major control measures. For the latest information see:

Common IDs each year – Are you curious about what kinds of things are sent in for identification? This file (IDL annual top spp through 2019) lists the most frequently-submitted IDs for indoor samples each year. The second page lists examples of garden, yard, and house plants people have sent samples from. In 2019 the most common indoor categories were No biting pest (Miscellaneous debris), and Carpet beetles.

Trends over time in Insect Diagnostics – Have you ever wondered how insects are identified, and how it has changed over time? See this 30 minute webinar at:

Can you identify this insect for me? - Biology

After insects have been properly pinned and labeled, they are kept in specially designed insect boxes constructed with soft flooring into which pins can be inserted. Pinned insects cannot be stored in good condition for long unless they are placed in boxes to protect them from dust and damage. A standard display box is 18 x 24 inches (outside measurements) and 21/2 to 3 inches deep to allow insect pins to stand upright. It is protected on top with a glass or Plexiglas top. Figure 24 shows a box that is simple and easy to make. Standard display boxes also are available from entomological supply houses, or 4-H leaders may know of local suppliers. Use caution if Styrofoam is used for the bottom of display boxes, because the protectants described below may melt this material if contacted directly.

Purdue Extension Entomology, 901 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4554

Can you identify this insect for me? - Biology

The next step after collecting insects is to preserve them permanently for future display and study. Insect larvae and soft-bodied and extremely tiny specimens are preserved in liquids. Isopropyl alcohol (70 percent) or equivalent is best. All others are preserved on specially designed insect pins. Large insects are mounted directly on pins, while those too small to be placed on pins are mounted on card points (Figure 14).

The wings of butterflies, moths, and dragonflies are spread to make the specimens more attractive and to aid in identification. All other insects should be dried with legs and antennae adjusted in the most lifelike manner possible.

Purdue Extension Entomology, 901 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4554

Identification of animals and plants is an essential skill set

La Trobe University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

I have recently been made abundantly aware of the lack of field skills among biology students, even those who major in ecology. By field skills we mean the ability to identify plants and animals, to recognise invasive species and to observe the impact of processes such as fire on the landscape.

My colleague Mike Clarke calls it “ecological illiteracy”, and identifies it as a risk for nature at large. While people spend more times indoors in front of screens, we become less aware of the birds, plants and bugs in our backyards and neighbourhoods. This leads to an alienation of humans from nature that is harmful to our health, our planet and our spirit.

On a more practical, academic level, I was in a meeting this week where an industry representative complained that biology graduates are no longer able to identify common plants and animals. This limits their employment prospects and hampers the capacity of society to respond to changes in natural ecosystems predicted by climate change.

Field taxonomy vs. Bloom’s taxonomy

So what is going on? Why don’t ecology students get this information during the course of their University degrees?

Practical sessions teaching scientific names of animals or plants can be perceived to be boring and dry. Students may be asked to collect and pin a range of insects or press and identify certain plants as part of their training in biological diversity, but these activities are time consuming and expensive. As we strive to be more flexible and efficient, classes and assessments relying on identification skills are quickly dropped.

Ironically, the dogma that has been so detrimental to field taxonomy is known as Bloom’s taxonomy. University lecturers are told to apply an educational theory developed by Benjamin Bloom, which categorises assessment tasks and learning activities into cognitive domains. In Bloom’s taxonomy, identifying and naming are at the lowest level of cognitive skills and have been systematically excluded from University degrees because they are considered simplistic.

The problem is that identifying a plant or insect is not simple at all. Not only do you need to know which features to examine (nuts, leaves, roots, spines, eye stripes or wing venation), you need to adopt a whole vocabulary of terms designed to provide precision in the observation of specific traits. Examining the mouthparts of insects requires knowing the difference between a mandible, maxilla and rostrum. Hairs on a leaf can be described as glaucous, glabrous, or hirsute.

Such detail cannot be taught without a student passionate enough to embrace the task and having a passionate mentor who can make the discipline come alive.

Photographs are not enough

In this digital age some people seem to think that photographs can replace the collection of specimens. I know a bit about crayfish, and where in the past a fisher might show up with an animal in an esky, these days people like to send me a photo and ask what species that was. I cannot identify a crayfish from a photo, nor can I easily explain to an interested amateur how to count the mesal carpal spines.

There is a reason that scientists must collect specimens and take them back to the lab or lodge them with a museum. Biological organisms are extremely complex, and the critical feature that distinguishes one from another relies on careful comparison.

A recent discovery of a rare kingfisher in Guadalcanal caused controversy in the Washington Post when the researchers photographed, then killed and collected the animal. I understand why they felt they needed to document their finding with a specimen, and I understand the outrage of nature lovers who decry the need for more than a photo.

Australian species are poorly known

A recent article by an author in Britain points out the difference between taxonomy and field skills. Trends in biological recording are changing due to electronic and photographic recording and the availability of complete field guides. However, the situation in the United Kingdom does differ from Australia.*

It is true that in some parts of the world the species have all been named and catalogued, but Australia is not one of those places. Any shake of a shrub will produce un-named insects. Every Bush Blitz expedition discovers new species or new records of known species.

Young people need field trips

I spent last week in the Victorian alps with biology students from La Trobe University. As part of their research project they needed to identify plants and insects. We had some impressive expertise among our staff, people who knew the Latin names of every plant at first glance. The trick is to transmit that knowledge to the next generation.

Accordingly, we made the students tape leaves into their notebooks and write names next to each one. We brought the insects back to the lodge and sat in front of microscopes for hours. Using keys, identification books and each other we were able to describe the particular community at each study site.

Some of the students came away excited about different groups of organisms. The excitement of the camp may lead them to spend time away from their desks staring at gum leaves, listening for bird calls or popping bugs in jars for later inspection.

I hope that some of them becom obsessed enough to turn themselves into experts, but I also want all young people to have more exposure to nature and all of its parts.

Not everyone can spend time in the alps, but everyone can learn the names of the trees in a nearby park. Can you identify the birds calling in your backyard? Do you know the difference between a moth and a butterfly, or between a worm and a grub?

Take the time to engage with both the little and big things growing around you and discover the joy of re-connecting with nature.

Can you identify this insect for me? - Biology

Bees are dependent on pollen as a protein source and on flower nectar or oils as an energy source. Adult females collect pollen primarily to feed their larvae. The pollen they inevitably lose in going from flower to flower is important to plants because some pollen lands on the pistils (reproductive structures) of other flowers of the same species, resulting in cross-pollination. Bees are, in fact, the most important pollinating insects, and their interdependence with plants makes them an excellent example of the type of symbiosis known as mutualism, an association between unlike organisms that is beneficial to both parties.

Most bees have specialized branched or feathery body hairs that help in the collection of pollen. Female bees, like many other hymenopterans, have a defensive sting. Some bees produce honey from flower nectar. Honey bees and stingless bees commonly hoard large quantities of honey-a characteristic that is exploited by beekeepers, who harvest the honey for human consumption.

Social Structure and Nesting Habits
Bees have diverse nesting and social habits. This diversity has provided scientists with a natural laboratory for the study of evolution and social behavior in insects.

Solitary Bees
The primitive bees, like their relatives the wasps, are solitary. Each female makes her own burrow, in which she constructs earthen chambers to contain her young. She deposits pollen moistened with nectar or oil into individual cells until enough food has accumulated to provide for the young bee from egg hatching until the larva reaches full size. She then lays an egg on the pollen mass and seals the cell before going on to construct another cell.

General features

Winged mayflies have large compound eyes, short, bristlelike antennae, and functionless mouthparts and digestive tracts. Once mayflies enter the winged stages they cannot feed. Their membranous wings include a large, triangular front pair and a much smaller, rounded hind pair. In a few species, the hind pair is extremely reduced or absent. In repose, the wings are held together upright over the body like those of a butterfly. The adult mayfly has two or three threadlike tails, usually as long as, or longer than, the body.

Nymphal characters include a single claw terminating each of the six legs. The surface of the thoracic region of the body is strongly rounded outward and bears the developing wings in external pads on the upper surface. The abdominal region is usually long and slender. Gills are attached to the outer edge of the upper surface of some of the ten segments into which the body is divided. The body of the nymph terminates in three, less often two, slender tails. Adult mayflies of North American species range in body length, exclusive of tails, from 2.5 mm (0.1 inch) for Caenis to 32 mm (more than an inch) for Hexagenia.


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Cricket, (family Gryllidae), any of approximately 2,400 species of leaping insects (order Orthoptera) that are worldwide in distribution and known for the musical chirping of the male. Crickets vary in length from 3 to 50 mm (0.12 to 2 inches). They have thin antennae, hind legs modified for jumping, three-jointed tarsal (foot) segments, and two slender abdominal sensory appendages (called cerci). The two forewings are stiff and leathery, and the two long, membranous hind wings are used in flying.

Male crickets produce musical chirping sounds by rubbing a scraper located on one forewing along a row of about 50 to 250 teeth on the opposite forewing. The frequency of the chirps depends on the number of teeth struck per second and varies from 1,500 cycles per second in the largest cricket species to nearly 10,000 cycles per second in the smallest. The most common cricket songs are the calling song, which attracts the female the courtship, or mating, song, which induces the female to copulate and the fighting chirp, which repels other males. Both sexes have highly sensitive organs on the forelegs for sound reception. There is a direct relationship between the rate of cricket chirps and temperature, with the rate increasing with increasing temperature.

Most female crickets insert eggs into soil or plant stems with their long, slender ovipositors, sometimes causing serious plant damage. In northern latitudes most crickets mature and lay eggs in the fall. The nymphs hatch in the spring and become adults after 6 to 12 molts adults ordinarily live 6 to 8 weeks.

The field cricket (genus Gryllus) and the house cricket (Acheta, formerly Gryllus, domesticus) of the subfamily Gryllinae are stout-bodied and black or brown and often dig shallow burrows. They may feed on plants, animals, clothes, and each other. The field cricket (also called the black cricket) is common in fields and yards and sometimes enters buildings. The house cricket, introduced into North America from Europe, has a light-coloured head with dark cross bands and may be found in buildings and refuse heaps. Widely distributed, house and field crickets chirp day and night. They are used as fish bait in some countries and are also used in biology laboratories. Gryllus is often referred to in poetry and prose.

Ground crickets (subfamily Nemobiinae, or sometimes Gryllinae), approximately 12 mm long, are commonly found in pastures and wooded areas. Their song is a series of soft, high-pitched trills. The striped ground cricket (Nemobius vittatus) has three dark stripes on its abdomen.

Tree crickets (subfamily Oecanthinae) are white or green in colour and have transparent wings. Although tree crickets are beneficial to humans because they prey on aphids, the female injures twigs during egg placement. The song of most tree crickets is a long trill. The snowy tree cricket (Oecanthus fultoni) is popularly known as the thermometer cricket because the approximate temperature (Fahrenheit) can be estimated by counting the number of chirps in 15 seconds and adding 40. Tree- and bush-inhabiting crickets usually sing at night, whereas weed-inhabiting crickets sing both day and night.

Ant-loving crickets (subfamily Myrmecophilinae) are minute (3 to 5 mm long), wingless, and humpbacked. They live in ant nests. Wingless bush crickets (subfamily Mogoplistinae) are generally found on bushes or under debris in sandy tropical areas near water. They are slender crickets, 5 to 13 mm long, wingless or with small wings, and are covered with translucent scales that rub off easily. Sword-bearing, or winged bush, crickets (subfamily Trigonidiinae) are 4 to 9 mm long and brown and possess a sword-shaped ovipositor. They are characteristically found in bushes near a pond.

Crickets play a large role in myth and superstition. Their presence is equated with good fortune and intelligence harming a cricket supposedly causes misfortune. In East Asia male crickets are caged for their songs, and cricket fighting has been a favourite sport in China for hundreds of years.

Insects called crickets but not of the cricket family Gryllidae include the camel cricket, Jerusalem cricket, mole cricket, and pygmy sand cricket.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Alison Eldridge, Digital Content Manager.

Fun Pest & Bug Games for Kids

Love games? Play our interactive insect and pest games, or try to ace our quizzes on bug trivia.

Mysterious and exciting, the world of pests challenges us to understand what attracts them to our homes and yards. Test your pest knowledge and skills with these insect and bug games for kids of all ages!

Dichotomous Key Usage Example – Shade Trees in Tampa Bay

Below are the first 6 of 9 couplets in a dichotomous key to identify 1 of 10 different shade trees found in Tampa Bay, Florida. With stems and leaves from the tree, the user starts at the couplet 1a and 1b and determines if the leaves and buds are opposite or alternate. If they are opposite, the user goes to couplet 2, if they are alternate, they go to couplet 3. The user then works their way through the couplets until they identify the tree species.

Notice that based on couplet 1a and 1b, if the leaf and bud orientation is opposite (Go to 2), the tree is either a Florida maple or a red maple depending on whether the leaf margins are entire or serrated. If the leaves and buds are alternate (Go to 3), the user must go into more detail using the key to identify the tree. In this case, the subsequent couplets go into more detail about the morphology of the leaves.

Watch the video: Weirdest Looking Insect. Almost Massive Heart Attack: Can you Identify This? (September 2022).


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