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Pest has 6 legs, and …

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Quick ID Guide
Insect Basics

Choose the best option:

option 1Pest has wings that are:

  • visible and functional, or
  • covered by a hard shell and divided by a vertical line, or
  • very short and stubby, or
  • appear in an X pattern

option 2Pest does not have wings

  • horizontal lines are visible across the back section of insect's body


Visible and Functional Wings:

American cockroach
American cockroach
(1 3/8-2 1/8", 34-53 mm)


(1/4-1", 6-25 mm)


(1 1/2-1 7/8", 38-46 mm)


house fly
(1/8-1/4", 4-7.5 mm)


termite, alate
termite, winged reproductive
(3/8", 10 mm)


basic insect showing abdominal segments These horizontal lines (the abdominal segments) will show if the pest has no wings.

bed bug adult
bed bug
(3/16", 4-5 mm), photo by Gary Alpert, Harvard University,


carpenter ant
carpenter ant
(1/8-1/2", 3.5-13mm)


(1/2-3/4", 12-19 mm), photo by Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,


cat flea
cat flea,
(1/8", 2.5 mm),(1/8", 2.5 mm), photo by Pest and Diseases Image Library,


(1/32-1/8", 1-3 mm)


termite worker
termite worker
(1/8-1/4", 5-7 mm)


book louse
book louse
(1/32-1/4", 1-6 mm)

Wings covered by a hard shell and divided by a vertical line:


general beetle image Arrow marks division between the elyatra: hard, shell-like modified wings found in beetles.


carpet beetle, adult
carpet beetle
(1/16-1/8", 1.8-3.2 mm), adult, photo by Natasha Wright, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,


convergent lady beetle
(1/32-3/8", 0.8-10 mm), photo by Russ Ottens, University of Georgia,


beetle in flight
beetle in flight,
photo by Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service - SRS-4552,

Very short and stubby wings:

(1/4-1", 5-25 mm), photo by Gary Alpert, Harvard University,

Wings appear in an X pattern:

boxelder bug boxelder bug showing X pattern of wings
boxelder bug
(1/2", 11-14 mm), photo by Link Elmore, Overlaid X in photo on right shows how the wings make an X pattern.

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Unless otherwise noted, all photos and illustrations by NYS IPM Staff