Microsatellites are powerful markers often isolated de novo for species yet to be investigated. Enriched genomic libraries are usually used for isolation purposes. We critically evaluate the outcome of an enrichment-based protocol applied to two insect species (the ant Lasius austriacus and the beetle Pityogenes chalcographus) which yielded contrasting numbers of suitable loci. Our findings of differences in microsatellite isolation are consistent with the available data on differences in genomic characteristics across these taxa. In the beetle repeated isolation of identical motifs, difficulties in primer development, and multibanded products caused loss of most candidate clones. We identified critical steps during marker development.