Most species on Earth are insects and thus, understanding their evolutionary relationships is key to understanding the evolution of life. Insect relationships are increasingly well supported, due largely to technological advances in molecular sequencing and phylogenetic computational analysis. In this postgenomic era, insect systematics will be furthered best by integrative methods aimed at hypothesis corroboration from molecular, morphological, and paleontological evidence. This review of the current consensus of insect relationships provides a foundation for comparative study and offers a framework to evaluate incoming genomic evidence. Notable recent phylogenetic successes include the resolution of Holometabola, including the identification of the enigmatic Strepsiptera as a beetle relative and the early divergence of Hymenoptera; the recognition of hexapods as a crustacean lineage within Pancrustacea; and the elucidation of Dictyoptera orders, with termites placed as social cockroaches. Regions of the tree that require further investigation include the earliest winged insects (Palaeoptera) and Polyneoptera (orthopteroid lineages).
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