Insecta in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae

In the 10th edition of Systema Naturae, Carl Linnaeus classified the arthropods, including insects, arachnids and crustaceans, among his class "Insecta". He described the Insecta as:[1]

A very numerous and various class consisting of small animals, breathing through lateral spiracles, armed on all sides with a bony skin, or covered with hair; furnished with many feet, and moveable antennae (or horns), which project from the head, and are the probable instruments of sensation.

Linnaean Characteristics [1]


Scarabaeus hercules (now Dynastes hercules) was the first species in Linnaeus' class "Insecta".

Linnaeus divided the class Insecta into seven orders, based chiefly on the form of the wings. He also provided a key to the orders:[2]

  • pairs dissimilar
  • pairs similar
  • wings covered with flat scales: Lepidoptera
  • wings membranous

Despite this key, however, Linnaeus grouped insects together that shared other affinities. His genus Coccus, containing the scale insects, he placed among the 4-winged Hemiptera, along with aphids and other plant-attacking insects, even though females have no wings, and males have two wings.[2] Similarly, the sheep ked Hippobosca ovina (now Melophagus ovinus) was correctly placed among the Diptera, despite being wingless.[2]



  1. 1 2 Carl von Linné, translated by William Turton (1806). Volume 1. A general system of nature: through the three grand kingdoms of animals, vegetables, and minerals, systematically divided into their several classes, orders, genera, species, and varieties. London: Lackington, Allen, and Co.
  2. 1 2 3 Mary P. Winsor (1976). "The development of Linnaean insect classification". Taxon. 25 (1): 57–67. JSTOR 1220406.
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