Because of the sheer number of bugs, small insect identification is a daunting task.
In North America alone there are approximately 90,000 different insect species you have to deal within the field of insect identification.
Over twenty-eight thousand of those are just beetles. In comparison, bird-watchers only deal with around 650 species in North America, and they are able to carry with them into the field pocket sized field guides.
To identify insects there is no handy guide that can be easily carried into the field. Large insect identification books and insect identification charts can be purchased at on-line and brick and mortar bookstores or had free on the Internet. However, an insect-hunter can still successfully identify a bug by keeping three items in mind.
Small Insect Identification in your House
How to Identify An Insect
To identify an insect the time of day is an important factor.
The activity of insects such as bees and butterflies normally peaks when the day’s temperature is at the highest — normally around noon. Other insects, such as mosquitoes, crank up their activity levels just as the sun is rising or setting. The earwig and the firefly, however, are nocturnal creatures.
Small Insect Identification Chart
The last item to consider in identifying insects is field equipment. For novices or beginners interested in identification of insects, a simple magnifying glass can show off an insect’s features much better than the unaided eye, and a camera allows photos to be taken so the insect can be later viewed or studied. Those more serious about insect identification may want to consider field collecting.
Field collecting involves quite a bit of specialized equipment: a net, storage boxes, pins, pinning blocks, spreading boards, light and pitfall traps, killing jars, killing and preserving chemicals, assorted sized vials, and plastic bags. A collecting bag made of canvas or muslin can accommodate carrying much of the needed equipment into the field along with plant cuttings and found insects. For field equipment an insect identification chart can also be useful.
Flying Insect Identification
Examining several specific features about the bug found can help in the process of identifying insects as well. For example, check to see if there is any moving jaw or mouth parts. The type of mouth can lead to assumptions about the particular insect’s eating habits. Pincers indicate a predator, where as a straw-like mouth can indicate a vegetarian diet.
Count the number of legs. If there are eight legs, what’s being examined is an arachnid such as a spider, as opposed to an insect, such as a beetle, which has six legs.
Lastly, compare field results with some type of guide or check-list may be a first step in small insect identification.