Insect identification keys

How to use an insect key

An insect key is a tool used to determine the species of a given insect. Typically, insect keys are designed as dichotomous, or paired, couplets. A couplet is a choice between 2 options based on a description of a particular feature. Example: Insect size, antennae shape.

A user chooses which option best matches the insect being identified. This choice leads to another couplet. The process continues until the user reaches a final couplet that identifies the insect.

To use the key effectively, it helps if the user understands insect morphology (structure and body parts).

A glossary of insect terms is also available.

Simple and comprehensive keys

The Canadian Grain Commission has 2 keys available:

  • A simple key to commonly found adult insects associated with stored grain in Canada
  • A comprehensive key to adult beetles found in stored products, including grain, in Canada and worldwide.