I want to start practising my identification skills using keys and stop relying on the knowledge of others. Is there a good place to look for these as a simple google search never seems to provide much. I am in the UK so somewhere that offers UK specific keys would be great. Thank you.
Are there particular groups of insects that interest you?
I really dont have a specific group that i focus on, I try to record as much of a variety as possible. But for example i was just looking for a key to the british species of anthomyiidae and came up empty handed as usual.
@sbushes might know
Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’ve figured out already, a lot of keys are hidden behind paywalls and membership walls. There is still a lot of gatekeeping in science. Having said that it is sometimes easier to find physical copies of keys than it is find them online. If you live near a university or large public library you might be able to get access to physical copies for free or very low charge.
UK might be the best place to start such an endeavor - not too many species, but a great history of citizen science and a good amount of printed or online resources for all kind of arthropods - just go through the various recording schemes for example:
As you mentioned flies, I know there are good keys for Sarcophagids and Calliphorids, and you should also check the Flickr account from Steven Falk (Diptera, Hymenoptera);
you have the britishbugs.org.uk ; Aphids (influentialpoints) ; Fly mines and Leaf mines of UK ; Psocodea (barkflies) …
I can also recommend the Tanyptera Project Youtube channel.
I wish we had a similar situation here in Austria…
If you just google what you want you will find tons of books, there’re enough websites with pdf/djvu to download those. UK also has hundreds of websites for any group.
Probably the best overall source for UK insect keys is this :
But it realllllly depends on which family (or order, etc).
Resources are scattered in general, and it takes a bit of asking around sometimes to find the best option. I second all the ones @carnifex mentions …though I should say the recording scheme for Agromyzidae (fly mines) (@barrywarrington ) say their site is the only one which is fully up to date for UK - https://agromyzidae.myspecies.info/
You need to become a member to get access, but Dipterists Forum has the UK Anthomyiidae keys :
Anthomyiidae is one of the hardest fly families to start keying Diptera though!!!
Feel free to send me a PM in future if there is something specific you can’t find
It seems like almost all keys are UK-specific.
Great resources, thanks for responding
The out of print Royal Entomological Society Handbooks are available to download from their website. Out of print doesn’t necessarily mean there is a newer edition. For many insect families, these are still the latest published keys.