ENY 6166 InsectClassification

ENY 6166 InsectClassification


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.


NY 3005, Principles 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

Course Goals

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


2Collecting, Curating & Identifying Insects
3Major Insect Lineages
4Early Insect Orders
5Insect Classification Concepts I
6Orthopteroids: Polyneoptera
7Hemipteroids: Paraneoptera
9Insect Classification Concepts II
10Coleoptera, Neuroptera & Strepsiptera
11Lepidoptera & Trichoptera
12Diptera, Siphonaptera & Mecoptera
13Insect Evolution