The process of identifying cocoons and insects can be tricky. However, learning how to identify certain characteristics helps to make the entire process much easier. Knowing what to look for, and what types of insects are common in an area will make proper identification possible.
Take a digital photo of the cocoon or insect you want to identify. It is much easier to take a photo of a cocoon, so if it is not possible to take a photo of an insect, remember the distinguishing characteristics. The photo will help you remember the colour, size and physical features present.
Examine the physical characteristics of a cocoon. Moths and butterflies normally come from silk cocoon coverings that are white or translucent in colour. Identify the colour of the cocoon and see if it changes colours over time. Most will start out as white and change to green or brown. Beatles normally end up with a brown or white cocoon; while butterflies normally will have theirs turn green. The shape is also important since moths and butterflies normally create oval shaped cocoons, while other insects will create cocoons in numerous different shapes and sizes.
Investigate the area around the cocoon and identify as many insects as possible. Write down the physical characteristics of insects around a cocoon that cannot be currently identified. There is a good chance that a cocoon is from a species already living in the area. Knowing which insects are around a cocoon will help to identify what could have created it.
Learn about what type of insects and cocoons are common in your area. Knowing which insects are most common will make it much easier to identify possible insects and cocoons. Insect books, online information and asking other people are some of the quickest ways to learn about what is most common in your area. Also take note of what insects are not prevalent in an area to eliminate numerous options.
Compare the photograph and physical description of insects and cocoons to known photos and descriptions. The "Photographic Atlas of Entomology and Guide to Insect Identification" is a great book to use as an identification tool. Online sources, gardeners and other knowledgeable people are also good resources to use when identifying bugs and cocoons. Compare the information to make a knowledgeable decision as to what insects are around and what could have created the cocoon.