Welcome to my selection of illustrated identification aids for insects. The amazing diversity of insects illustrates and celebrates the creativity and imagination of God and my hope is that you will not only find these keys useful and attractive but also that they would lead you to worship.
These dichotomous keys are designed for use on screen. I would like to envisage them being used on a PC at home or in a lab, or used in the field, for example on a smart phone or tablet. They are not designed to be printed. The layout with one couplet for each page is deliberate and moving through the keys should be possible using the hyperlinks, or if using a tablet, by swiping through the document.
It is my conviction that good quality keys should be available online for all users freely so that advances in natural history knowledge are not hampered at the first hurdle of identification.
My first keys were updated and illustrated versions of the keys to British coleoptera published by Joy in 1932. Since some of the out of print Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects have now been published on the web under a Creative Commons License I have started to write illustrated keys with updated nomenclature based on these as well. You will also find a growing number of keys that I have translated and adapted from French and German works including those by Arved Lompe who has given me permission to translate and publish here.
If you find the keys helpful please let me know. I am very keen to improve them so if you find anything that needs changing, is unclear, or requires clarification please contact me on mikesinsectkeysATgmail.com. If you find that a key is missing please let me know and I'll see what I can do to forward you something
I am also a keen botanist and am trying to write illustrated keys for the plants of North Hampshire in southern England. Follow the blog at http://mikehackston.blogspot.co.uk. One function of the blog is that it informs of any new keys published here and also amendments that have been made to existing keys.
Links to the keys to Coleoptera species pages
Recent edits and additions
20th July 2016 - updated key to Histeridae to include Epierus comptus, an omission pointed out by Rik Harris
15th August 2016 - revision of the key to Nitidulidae to include keys to species of all the smaller genera
14th September 2016 - new key to the subfamilies and some species of Elateridae
28th October 2016 - slight revision of the Latridiidae to correct problems with the numbering of couplets, pointed out by William Sheppard, plus integrating diagrams of aedeagi for species of Corticaria.
29th October 2016 - update of the key to Chrysomelinae to include Chrysomela vigintipunctata, recently found in Suffolk
29th October 2016 - update of the key to Scaphidiinae (Staphylinidae) to include Scaphisoma balcanicum found in Berkshire; aedeagus diagrams added and text improved.
29th October 2016 - update of the key to Laemophloeidae to include Leptophleus alternans and Placonotus testaceus found in Surrey
30th December 2016 - update and revision of the key to Buprestidae to include Agrilus olivicolor
1st January 2017 - revision of one couplet in the Staphylinidae: Scydmaeninae key to take into account the note from A. Duff clarifying the status of Stenichnus poweri and S, barnevillei.
3rd January 2017 - new key to the species of Amara and Curtonotus translated from the German to include Amara majuscula found in 2014-2015 in Worcestershire and Norfolk
11th January 2017 - new keys to the species of Chrysomelidae, Galerucinae, Alticini, thus completing the British Chrysomelidae.
14th April 2017 - corrections made to the key to Clambidae with the addition of aedeagus diagrams
14th April 2017 - key to the species of family Staphylinidae, subfamily Micropeplinae published
For keys to Diptera - please go to https://sites.google.com/site/mikesinsectkeys2
For keys to Hymenoptera and other insect orders - please go to https://sites.google.com/site/mikesinsectkeyshymenoptera/