Basic Entomology (Continued)

How Insects are Identified

The same physical and growth/development characteristics used by entomologists to classify insects are also used to identify them in the wild.  Sometimes identification of pests damaging plants must occur without seeing a specimen of the insect, though it is always easier to identify them if you have a specimen.  If you have a specimen, you can view it under a magnifying glass, dissecting scope, or microscope and can often identify it down to the genus or species level.

Some things used to identify insects pests include whether it is a larva/nymph or an adult insect, whether they chew or suck on plants, which types of plants are damaged, what portions of the plant are damaged, do they live above or below the soil surface, whether or not they have wings, whether they have a single pair of wings or two pairs, the shape of the wings, the venation of the wings, whether their exoskeleton is hard or soft, and more.

It is often not necessary to identify an insect pest down to the species level.  However, the more you know about the host being damaged and the insect pest itself, the better you should be able to identify them.  Identifying both the host and pest is very important when recommending chemical pesticides, especially for edible fruits, vegetables, and other crops.