Odonata Larvae of Michigan:
Keys for, and notes on, the dragon- and damselfly larvae found in the State of Michigan
by Ethan Bright and Mark F. O'Brien, UMMZ-Insect Division
Page Last Updated: 07 January 1999 (EB)

Accessing the keys - Introduction
Tips on use - Future goals and improvements - Web page design
About the authors: Ethan Bright and Mark O'Brien
This is an on-going project, so please contact us about errors or suggestions for improvements at:
ethanbr@insects.ummz.lsa.umich.edu or mfobrien@umich.edu

Accessing The Keys

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).

Introduction and Web Page Organization

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).

Tips on Use

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.

Future Goals and Improvements

Hopefully this is just the beginning, and we hope to secure resources in which to implement additional improvements and projects:

  • establish a page for each species, with a summary of their biology (particularly data from Michigan and the Great Lakes region) and a table of morphological characters to allow for species-level comparisons and other diagnostics;
  • create distribution maps that permit collection locality information to be accessed via a database interface;
  • update existing information with the many expected corrections from reviewers and users, and add new data from the many Odonata enthusiasts in Michigan and elsewhere;
  • extend this project to include other aquatic insect orders, in particular Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera, Heteroptera and Diptera (Chironomidae).

Web Page Design

Made with Claris Home Page

This web page was designed with Claris Home Page 2.0. Most images were directly digitized with with a Sony digital video camera mounted on a Wild M5 dissecting scope.

This project has been conceived and written by Ethan Bright, who is responsible for larval identification, literature research and web page design. Mark O'Brien assisted with layout design, page editing as well as file and server compatibility.