ENY 6166 Insect Classification

Learn More About Our Program

ENY 6166 Insect Classification


The goal of this course is to provide you with a sound theoretical and practical understanding of
insect diversity and the practice of classifying organisms. Lectures discuss the general principles
of systematics, history of insect classification, construction and use of identification tools,
nomenclature, and biology and evolutionary history of the hexapod orders. We also explore why
competing classifications exist in taxonomy, and what existing classifications imply about broad
patterns of evolutionary change and diversification within insects.

A collection is required that will refine your ability to identify insects to the level of order, family
and species. Accumulating the required numbers of taxa will be possible only by employing a
variety of collecting techniques and working with dichotomous keys. Building an insect
collection, with correctly identified and curated specimens is an excellent way to learn,
understand and employ the methods used by professionals to identify and classify not only
insects, but living organisms in general.


ENY 5006 Graduate Survey of Entomology, or a similar course dealing with the classification of insects. Students are expected to be familiar with the insect orders before taking this class.

Course Format

Collect, collect, collect! Success in this course is largely linked to the effort you make to
collect insects in diverse environments early in the semester. Beyond the collection itself, keep
in mind that the more orders and families you have, the more specimens you have for studying
key morphological characters of these groups. Even if the weather is not perfect, you can find a
lot of diversity once you start looking. Don’t overlook urban environments and indoor habitats
such as homes and greenhouses, especially if it is cold outside! You will need to collect many
more insects than just the required number of Orders, Families and Species. This is because
many of your insects will belong to the same families, but you won’t know this until you have
already curated and identified them.

Plan ahead. Plan to collect intensively for the first third of the course, curating
specimens as you go and identifying insects in the groups that you are learning about in lecture.
After about 5 weeks, switch your primary focus to identification, and work on the specimens
that you have already collected and curated. This will allow you to become familiar with the
identification keys in the textbook using your specimens. As you become proficient at
recognizing common insect families, your collecting can become more targeted as you search
for groups not yet included in your collection.

Access a scope. The diagnostic features of many insects are very small and can be best
seen under magnification. It is assumed that you will have access to a dissecting microscope for
this course. If you are in Gainesville you can contact me to arrange access to a scope in
Entomology. Alternatively, contact a scientific laboratory or a high school science classroom to
request use of their equipment. A high‐quality hand lens (20X) can also be a great help in the

Course Goals

After completing this course you should be able to:
1. Identify hexapods to order and the majority of common insects to family by sight
2. Identify adult insects to order and family using dichotomous keys
3. Collect insects and field data in different habitats using a variety of techniques.
4. Curate insect specimens properly, including labeling, pinning, point mounting, and
preserving in ethanol.
5. Describe the taxonomic process: how species are described, named and classified.
6. Explain how key innovations in the life history of insects led to their incredible diversity.
7. Interpret phylogenetic trees depicting the evolutionary relationships among insects


1IntroductionIntroduction to Insect Classification
2Collecting, Curating & Identifying InsectsCollecting Insects
Curating Insects
Identifying Insects
3Major Insect LineagesMajor Insect Lineages
Insect Morphology
5Early Insect OrdersEntognathous Hexapods
Early Insect Orders
4Insect Classification Concepts ISystematics, Taxonomy, Classification & Phylogenetics
Reading Phylogenetic Trees
6Orthopteroids: PolyneopteraDictyoptera, Orthoptera, Phasmatodea, Dermaptera, Embioptera, Plecoptera, Zoraptera, Grylloblattodea, Mantophasmatodea
Exam 1
7Hemipteroids: ParaneopteraHemiptera: Heteroptera
Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha & Sternorrhyncha
Psocoptera, Thysanoptera, Phthiraptera & Hemiptera
9Insect Classification Concepts IIHistory of Classification
Zoological Nomenclature
Species Concepts
10Coleoptera, Neuroptera & StrepsipteraColeoptera, Neuroptera & Strepsiptera
11Lepidoptera & TrichopteraLepidoptera & Trichoptera
12Diptera, Siphonaptera & MecopteraDiptera, Siphonaptera & Mecoptera
13Insect EvolutionInsect Evolution
Exam 2