Identification keys are accessed by simplying clicking on the choices on the navigation fram to the left. For those unfamilar with the larvae of Odonata, we recommend beginning the sequence from the beginning (Odonata).
This project is part of an effort to utilize the resources of the UMMZ's large Odonata collection and to help educate the public about an interesting and important part of our entomological fauna.
The intent of these web pages is to simplify the use of keys which are not always available to the public using the power of the computer to neatly organize text, figures and pictures as well as conveniently provide information regarding terminology, distribution, taxonomy and biology. This is an on-going project, and this web site will be continually updated and revised.
Information is usually organized into four sections: 1) Notes (on distribution, taxonomy and systematics, biology and ecology, etc.); 2) State Species List; 3) Larval Key; and 4) References. (Bibliography for the entire project can be accessed from this page (see left)). Interesting and useful sites on the WWW pertinent to larval odonate biology or ecology for each family or genus will be hotlinked on their respective pages. Please notify us of any links that should be added, or dead links removed. We hope these changes will greatly improve this project's usefulness and aesthetic appearence.
We follow the usual layout of dichotomous keys to allow one to identify individuals on-hand. If one is unfamiliar with Odonata, it is best to begin at the beginning page that distinguished the user between dragonflies and damselflies. Then, simply click on highlighted name that matches the preceeding description(s) until you arrive at the desired taxonomic level (family, genus, species etc.).
Tables eventually will be provided to conveniently list species' characters to verify any identification (e.g. see Somatochlora).
Larvae are most easily identified to species when mature larvae (later or last instar individuals) are on hand, as diagnostic characters are not always fully developed. However, immature specimens usually can be identified to family and genus. Experienced individuals can often rear collected larvae to later stages for identification using inexpensive equipment (aquaria, pumps, substrate and food). With luck and experience, one can also observe the moment when the adult emerges, and a definite species identification can be made.
Hopefully this is just the beginning, and we hope to secure resources in which to implement additional improvements and projects: