Help identifying an insect (I think it was an insect)

Help identifying an insect (I think it was an insect)

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While I realize this may be difficult without a photo, I'm hoping someone can say "This is a list of possible species given your location and description" and I can attempt to find a photo that matches from there.

I'm in NE Indiana. I think it was an insect. The species in question looked a bit like a leech, black and shiny but wasn't segmented and it was a bit flattened out (but not entirely), maybe an inch long. It wasn't tapered. Also I don't believe it made any attempt to bite me (or just wasn't around long enough to). Unfortunately it startled me so I smashed it pretty quickly so I didn't get a picture, but I got a good look and couldn't identify any legs, eyes, antennae. It moved fairly quickly, almost in a pulsating motion. When I smashed it, there was only a bit of white, mealy paste left behind, the body almost seemed to liquefy.

If it hadn't moved so quickly and wasn't so small I'd have thought it was a baby slug. It's possible it could have been some sort of larvae.

I also don't think it was a leech because I found it on my body but I was in my home and can't think where I could have been that would have exposed me to one. I noticed it when after removing my shirt and lying in bed. So it was either inside my shirt for several hours without me noticing, fell out from the covers when I got in bed, or fell from somewhere after I got in bed.

This is not easy to answer without a picture. However, if it was unsegmented, it was definitely not an insect (which have a segmented body plan, both as larvae/nymph and adult). Your description also sounds nothing like an insect. However, the overall description fits fairly well with a flatworm (Phyluym: Plathelminthes), see e.g. Geoplanidae. They can resemble slugs or leeches, but both lack segmentation and antenna. Finding one inside your house sounds a bit strange though, as they generally prefer moist habitats.

Terrestial flatworms are relatively mobile and most are predators or scavengers

Example pictures:

What bug is this?

Face to face with the beetle Oedemera nobilis.

If you have found an unknown insect (or other invertebrate) and would like to identify it then the AES can help you.

There are roughly one million described species of insect and experts estimate that there are probably another five million species that are yet to be identified. If you combine that total with the millions of species of invertebrate that are not insects (e.g. spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, ticks etc.) you'll realise that no one person can ever be an expert in any more than a relatively small area.

The society provides an identification service for members of the society. If you are not a member of our society then entomologists from our society are active on a number of online forums and we have provided a list of places where you can get identification help.

    - what are the differences between insects, spiders, centipedes etc. - if you have found an adult insect this may help you identify it
  • If you think you know what your insect is, why not view information on that insect group? - an example of how experts identify insects

Economic Importance of Insects

Insects which produce honey, wax, lac, dyes and silk are commercially beneficial. Some insects are very helpful in destroying injurious insects.

1. Commercial Products:

Apis, the honeybees produce millions of tons of honey every year, it also gives bees wax from its combs.

Benefits of bees are cosmopolitan, not only in producing honey and wax, but also in bringing about cross-pollination of many fruits and flowers without which these plants could not exist. Tachardia, the lac insect secretes commercial lac produced from integumentary glands as a protective covering by females, shellac is made from lac in India.

Dactylopius, the cochineal insect of Mexico is found on cacti, dried bodies of females of this scale insect are used for making cochineal dyes. Bombyx and Eupterote are silk moths, they are reared in India, China, Japan and Europe, their larvae called silk worms spin cocoon of raw silk, the silk fibre is reeled off and used for making silk.

In Asiatic countries over 25 million kilograms of silk are produced annually. Dried elytra of two beetles, Lytta and Mylabris are used for making cantharidin, a powerful aphrodisiac.

The larvae of two flies, Lucilla and Phormia are used in healing such wounds of bones which do not respond to medicines, the larvae are put in wounds of bones and bone marrow, they clear away suppurating and dead tissues, prevent bacterial growth and excrete allantoin which heals the wounds.

2. Useful Predaceous Insects:

Some insects are predaceous, they feed upon and destroy a large number of injurious insects. Stagomantis, a mantis is voracious, it feeds on flies, grasshoppers and caterpillars, some of which are injurious to crops. The larvae and adults of Chilomenes, a lady-bird beetle, feed on aphids which infect cotton plants.

Novius, a lady-bird bettle, destroys scale worms which are pests of orange and lemon trees. Epicauta is a blister beetle, it deposits eggs where locusts occur, the larvae on hatching enter egg capsules of locusts and eat up masses of eggs. Calasoma, a ground beetle preys upon many kinds of lepidopterous larvae which destroy cereals and cotton.

3. Beneficial Parasitic Insects:

Some insects parasitise injurious insects, they usually lay eggs in the bodies of larvae and adults of harmful insects the young on hatching from eggs finally kill their hosts. The larvae of Tachina and related flies are parasites of injurious lepidopterous larvae, such as army-worms which are injurious to cereals.

Larvae of hymenopteran flies and carnivorous wasps devour aphids in large numbers. Chalcids and ichneumon flies are parasitic, laying eggs in cocoon and larvae of phytophagous Lepidoptera. Apanteles, a hymenopteran fly lays eggs in army-worms and boll worms, the parasitic larvae gnaw their way through the skin of the host.

4. Scavengers:

Some insects are scavengers, they eat up dead animal and vegetable matter, thus, they prevent decay. Some ants and larvae of some flies can devour entire animal carcasses.

B. Injurious Insects:

Compared with beneficial insects the number of injurious insects is very large.

1. Disease Transmitting Insects:

Many types of mosquitoes, flies, fleas, lice and bugs transmit diseases to man and domestic animals, they have been described earlier in insects and diseases.

2. Household Insects:

Human food is spoiled by cockroaches, ants, flies and weevils. Tinea, Teniola and Trichophaga are clothes moths, they lay eggs on warm clothes, the larvae on hatching eat and destroy clothes, they also feed on furs, carpets and dry fruits. Anthrenus is a carpet beetle, it is a scavenger eating decaying animal matter, but its larvae destroy carpets and preserved biological specimens.

Tenebrio is the mealworm beetle, its larvae are mealworms, they eat meal, flour and stored grains, such as rice. Lepisma, the silver fish and Liposcelis, the book louse live in and destroy books and old manuscripts. Termites, the white ants cause untold destruction of books, carpets, furniture and wood-work of buildings.

3. Injurious to Domestic Animals:

Glossina, the tsetse fly transmits Trypanosoma brucei which causes nagana in horses. Tabanus and Stomoxys, the blood sucking flies inject Trypanosoma evansi into horses and cattle which causes surra in India.

The larvae of Hypoderma, the warble fly bore below the skin of oxen and make holes for breathing, then they pass through the gullet and again pierce the skin on the sides of the spine to form swellings, they not only injure the hide but also reduce the meat and milk supply.

Gasterophilus, the bot-fly lays eggs on hair of horse, the larvae enter the stomach in large numbers. Melophagus, the sheep tick and Hippobosca, the forest fly of cattle and horses suek blood of their hosts and often cause haemorrhage. Menopon, the chicken louse sucks blood and causes destruction of fowls.

4. Injurious to Crops:

Many insects damage forest trees, growing farm crops, fruits and stored grain, the damage they cause annually runs into millions of rupees.

The number of such insects is innumerable, they are mostly Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Diptera and Hemiptera. Euproctis, the brown tail moth and Lymantria, the gipsy moth are serious pests of shade and foliage trees, their larvae are a menace and destroy forest trees. Myetiola, the Hessian fly is a small sized midge, its larvae damage wheat plants.

The larvae of two Lepidoptera Chilo in India, and Diatraea in America bore into stems of sugar-cane and cause a great deal of damage. Pyrilla, a hemipteran sugar-cane leaf hopper sucks the juice of sugar-cane, both as adult and nymph, causing great loss of sugar.

Pyrausta is a moth found all over the world, but specially abundant in the tropics, its larvae known as corn borers are notorious for boring into stems and fruits of corn (maize). Nephotettix, the Indian rice leaf-hopper and Leptocorisa, the oriental pest of rice and millet are Hemiptera, they attack rice in very large number eating the leaves and ears.

The larvae of Schoenobius, a moth bore into the stems of rice plants in India, they kill the plants. Nymphs and adults of Hieroglyphus, an orthopteran eat up the growing shoots of rice plants, thus, preventing formation of grain.

Dysdercus, the Indian cotton bug, Oxycarenus, the Egyptian cotton bug, and Anthonomous the cotton-boll weevil are very injurious to cotton, they stain and destroy cotton- bolls, Aphis, a hemipteran is a serious cotton pest in India, the pests often attack cotton plants in large numbers causing the plants to wilt and die.

The larvae of two Lepidoptera, Agrotis and Gnorimoschema are potato cut-worms in India, the former feeds on potato leaves and cuts off the stems, while the larvae of the latter eat the potatoes in the field and stores, larvae also attack tobacco and tomatoes. Larvae of Agrotis are also destructive to peas, cabbage, tobacco, ground nuts, wheat and cauliflowers.

The larvae of some Coleoptera are called wire-worms, such as Agriotis and Limonius, they are root-feeders and are extremely destuctive to cereals, root crops and grasses. Many insects and their larvae destroy vegetables in India.

Siphocoryne is an aphis which feeds on cabbage leaves Anasa, the squash bug is destructive to cucurbitaceous plants Earias the spotted bollworm destroys ladyfingers Aulacophora, the red beetle feeds on pumpkins the larvae of Bruchus, a beetle bore into pods of beans and peas killing the seed.

Many insects attack fruit trees, they damage roots, trunks, stems, leaves, inflorescence and fruit. Drosicha, a mealy bug causes destruction of mangoes, plums, papaya, jack fruit, pears and citrus fruits in India. The nymphs and adults of Ideocerus, a mango leaf hopper attack the inflorescence and suck the sap, thus, they cause tremendous damage by preventing formation of mango fruit.

The laryae of Contarinia fly feed on young pears which soon decay. Psylla, an apple bug, lays eggs on apple and pear tree, the nymphs on hatching damage the blossom and shoots the larvae of Anthonomus, a beetle also destroy apple blossoms and prevent formation of the fruit. Nysius, a bug is very destructive to several kinds of fruit trees.

Many moths, caterpillars and beetle cause a great deal of damage to stored grains: two beetles Tenebrio and Tribolium have similar habits and are commonly found in stores and granaries, the former is found in all stages in meal, flour and stored goods, its larvae are known as meal worms. Tribolium eats stored wheat and grain. Calandra, a weevil bores through grains of rice and other stored grain in India.

Appearance and habits

The majority of insects are small, usually less than 6 mm (0.2 inch) long, although the range in size is wide. Some of the feather-winged beetles and parasitic wasps are almost microscopic, while some tropical forms such as the hercules beetles, African goliath beetles, certain Australian stick insects, and the wingspan of the hercules moth can be as large as 27 cm (10.6 inches).

In many species the difference in body structure between the sexes is pronounced, and knowledge of one sex may give few clues to the appearance of the other sex. In some, such as the twisted-wing insects ( Strepsiptera), the female is a mere inactive bag of eggs, and the winged male is one of the most active insects known. Modes of reproduction are quite diverse, and reproductive capacity is generally high. Some insects, such as the mayflies, feed only in the immature or larval stage and go without food during an extremely short adult life. Among social insects, queen termites may live for up to 50 years, whereas some adult mayflies live less than two hours.

Some insects advertise their presence to the other sex by flashing lights, and many imitate other insects in colour and form and thus avoid or minimize attack by predators that feed by day and find their prey visually, as do birds, lizards, and other insects.

Behaviour is diverse, from the almost inert parasitic forms, whose larvae lie in the nutrient bloodstreams of their hosts and feed by absorption, to dragonflies that pursue victims in the air, tiger beetles that outrun prey on land, and predaceous water beetles that outswim prey in water.

In some cases the adult insects make elaborate preparations for the young, in others the mother alone defends or feeds her young, and in still others the young are supported by complex insect societies. Some colonies of social insects, such as tropical termites and ants, may reach populations of millions of inhabitants.

3. The Harmless Earwig

Poor Earwig. His only crime is looking dangerous thanks to those scary pincers. Scientists believe that the pincers may serve a role in mate selection or possibly protection since they look so intimidating. But actually, unlike pincers on some beetles and other biting insects, the earwig&aposs biters are on the rear end and lack the muscles needed to actually bite anything with any force.

This peaceful, harmless little animal spends most of his time outside nibbling on the edges of leaves. Earwigs become household bugs in the winter when they are looking for a place to stay warm. They don&apost go in your ears, they can&apost bite, and those pincers on their butt are incapable of actually pinching anyone. This means you can take a deep breath, and leave them alone!

Their pinchers are ineffective for biting. They do not try to invade your ears.

PowerPoint Presentations/Webinars

January 17th, 2019: Idaho Hort Expo (Boise)

February 5th, 2019: Boulder County Beekeeping Class (Longmont)

February 5th, 2019: Seminar, Department of Agricultural Biology (Fort Collins)

February 7th, 2019: The ProGreen Expo (Denver)

February 12-13th, 2019: Western Colorado Pest Management Conference (Grand Junction)

February 21st, 2019: Hemp Insect Discussion (Rocky Ford)

March 6th 2019: Colorado Arborists and Lawn Care Professionals (CALCP) Annual Conference (Aurora)

March 9th 2019: SymROSEium, Denver Rose Society (Denver)

April 3rd 2019: Pacific Branch Meeting, Entomological Society of America (San Diego)

May 19, 2019 Northeastern IPM Center (Webinar)

July 17, 2019: Sentinel Plant Network Workshop, Cheyenne Botanic Gardens (Cheyenne)

August 29, 2019: Department Seminar, Purdue University (West Lafayette)

September 12, 2019: GCA Shirley Meneice Annual Conference, Denver Botanic Gardens (Denver)

September 19, 2019 ISA-RMC Annual Meeting (Westminster)

November 1, 2019: Master Gardener Webinar, Emerald Ash Borer (Fort Collins)

November 6, 2019: CSU Front Range Pest Management Workshop (Loveland)

November 7, 2019: Hemp Growers Workshop (Fort Collins)

November 21, 2019: ISA-RMC Annual Pesticides Workshop (Denver)

December 6, 2019: Poudre School District Nurses (Fort Collins)

December 11, 2019: Rocky Mountain Regional Turfgrass Conference and Trade Show (Aurora)

December 12, 2019: College of Agricultural Sciences Distinguish Lecture Series (Fort Collins)

January 23-24, Association of Montana Turf, Ornamental and Pest Professionals (Montana)

February 1, 2020: Garfield County AgExpo (Rifle)

February 6-7, 2020: ProGreen Expo (Denver, CO)

February 11-12, 2020: Western Colorado Pest Management Conference (Fruita, CO)

February 20, 2020: Rocky Mountain Green Industry Conference and Trade Show (Casper, Wyoming)

February 24, 2020: Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Annual Meeting (Denver, CO)

March 4, 2020 Colorado Arborists and Lawn Care Professionals, Annual Meeting (Fort Collins)

March 7, 2020 High Plains Landscape Workshop (Fort Collins)

Help identifying an insect (I think it was an insect) - Biology

The next step after collecting insects is to preserve them permanently for future display and study. Insect larvae and soft-bodied and extremely tiny specimens are preserved in liquids. Isopropyl alcohol (70 percent) or equivalent is best. All others are preserved on specially designed insect pins. Large insects are mounted directly on pins, while those too small to be placed on pins are mounted on card points (Figure 14).

The wings of butterflies, moths, and dragonflies are spread to make the specimens more attractive and to aid in identification. All other insects should be dried with legs and antennae adjusted in the most lifelike manner possible.

Purdue Extension Entomology, 901 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4554

Aquatic Insects – Ecology, Feeding, and Life History


Most predacious aquatic insects capture prey by actively foraging in benthic and water-column habitats. This type of feeding is most commonly found among some Plecoptera, Megaloptera ( Figure 11 ), and Trichoptera in streams and phantom midges (Diptera: Chaoboridae Figure 2 ), Odonata, and adult Dytiscidae (Coleoptera) in ponds and lakes. The Ephemeroptera also contains examples of engulfing predators ( Figure 11 ). Other predators ambush prey by hiding. The caddisflies Polycentropus and Polyplectropus, for example, spin irregular webs from which they ambush prey ( Figure 12 ).

Figure 11 . Top. Larva of Drunella (Ephemeroptera: Ephemerellidae) consuming a Baetis larva (Ephemeroptera: Baetidae). Photo reproduced with permission of Angus McIntosh. Bottom: Larva of Neohermes filicornis (Megaloptera: Corydalidae) consuming a stonefly larva (Calineuria californica, Plecoptera: Perlidae). Larry Serpa, with permission.

Figure 12 . Silken web of Polycentropus (Trichoptera: Polycentropodidae). Larvae of Polycentropus, and the closely related Polyplectropus, conceal themselves within the web from which they ambush entangled prey. Inset shows details of the larva of Polyplectropus. Photo by Alex Huryn. Inset figure redrawn from Winterbourn and Gregson (1989) Guide to the aquatic insects of New Zealand. Bulletin of the Entomological Society of New Zealand 9: 1–95.


Forensic entomology is the study of the application of insects and other arthropods in criminal investigation.[1] Insects or arthropods are found in a decomposing vertebrate corpse or carrion.[2] These insect colonizers can be used to estimate the time of death i.e., time interval between death and corpse discovery, also called postmortem index (PMI), movement of the corpse, manner and cause of death and association of suspects at the death scene.[3] This review is aimed at providing an overview to forensic odontologists on the possibilities of using forensic data based on insects and their larvae morphology, growth histories, species distribution and toxic contents in their tissue in criminal investigation.

What Are the Characteristics of Insects?

Insects are cold blooded and have six legs, three main body parts and an exoskeleton. Insects also lay eggs and many have four wings.

Insects have a hard protective covering called an exoskeleton. Because they lack backbones, they are invertebrates. An insect's body has three major body parts, including a head, thorax and abdomen. Insects can live on land, in the water or both and are cold-blooded creatures that require the sun to warm them. Most insects have antennae that allow them to touch, taste, hear and smell. These antennae help them locate food and sense danger from predators.

Some insects go through a complete metamorphosis, meaning they grow into completely different creatures than they were in their larval stage. Insects that go through this change include butterflies, true flies and beetles. Insects that go through an incomplete metamorphosis look very similar to adults of the same species, only smaller. Cockroaches and grasshoppers go through an incomplete metamorphosis.

There are more than one million insect species in the world today and they are the most diverse group of creatures in the world. Each insect is important and each has a different function, ranging from predator to prey to host. There are currently more insects in the world than all the land animals combined.

Watch the video: All About Bugs. Amazing Facts About Insects. Mini Beast Facts. Narrative Tales (January 2023).