Venomous

  • Aquatic Invertebrates

  • Media
    Photo of a giant water bug
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Species in the genera Abedus, Belostoma, and Lethocerus
    Description
    Giant water bugs are huge aquatic insects that frequently fly around electric lights at night. They are infamous for the painful bite they can deliver, but fish, birds — and some people — find them tasty!

  • Land Invertebrates

  • Media
    Jagged ambush bug on a plant stem
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Phymata spp. and others in subfamily Phymatinae (ambush bugs)
    Description
    Ambush bugs are a subfamily of assassin bugs. They’re chunky, small insects with powerful grasping forelegs. They hide motionless in flowers waiting for prey to venture near.
  • Media
    image of Assassin Bug crawling on a leaf
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Nearly 200 species in North America north of Mexico
    Description
    Assassin bugs are usually black or brown, with an elongated head bearing a single, clawlike tube used for piercing and injecting venom into their prey. They are common in Missouri.
  • Media
    Image of a black widow
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Latrodectus mactans and L. variolus
    Description
    The glossy, black-bodied female black widow spider has distinctive red spots on the underside of the abdomen. Only the female can inflict a potentially dangerous bite. The small, seldom-seen male is harmless.
  • Media
    Closeup of brown recluse spider on floor.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Loxosceles reclusa
    Description
    The brown recluse is one spider to avoid. It is venomous, though a bite is almost never fatal. Brown recluses are most commonly encountered in houses, where they occupy little-used drawers, closets, and other small hiding spaces.
  • Media
    Image of a giant red-headed centipede.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Scolopendra heros
    Description
    The bright colors of the giant red-headed centipede have a message for you: Handle with great care! It’s of the few centipedes in our state capable of inflicting a painful, venomous bite.
  • Media
    Orange assassin bug walking on tree bark at Mint Spring
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Pselliopus barberi
    Description
    The orange assassin bug, Pselliopus barberi, is about ½ inch long and is one of our most attractive non-butterfly insects. They overwinter in groups as adults under loose bark.
  • Media
    striped bark scorpion on a rock
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Centruroides vittatus
    Description
    Striped bark scorpions are pale yellowish brown, usually with two lengthwise dark stripes on the abdomen. It is the only species of scorpion in Missouri. It occurs in glades and other dry, warm, rocky areas, and sometimes in buildings and shelters and under piles of wood, brush, or garbage.
  • Media
    image of a Wheel Bug, Side View
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Arilus cristatus
    Description
    The wheel bug is a large gray or brown insect that carries something interesting on its back: Is it a cog, or a wheel, or a circular saw blade?

  • Reptiles and Amphibians

  • Media
    Image of an osage copperhead
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Agkistrodon contortrix
    Description
    The eastern copperhead is the most common venomous snake in Missouri. Its color varies from grayish brown to pinkish tan, with distinctive hourglass-shaped crossbands.
  • Media
    Image of a northern cottonmouth
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Agkistrodon piscivorus
    Description
    The cottonmouth is named for the cotton-white lining of its mouth, which it opens wildely when alarmed. This dangerously venomous, semiaquatic snake occurs in the southeastern corner of Missouri, with a spotty distribution in the Ozark Region.
  • Media
    Image of a massasauga
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Sistrurus tergeminus tergeminus
    Description
    The prairie massasauga is a shy, reclusive, nonaggressive rattlesnake. It used to live in floodplain wetlands of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Grand rivers, but it is now endangered.
  • Media
    Image of a timber rattlesnake
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Crotalus horridus
    Description
    Missouri’s largest venomous snake, the timber rattlesnake, is dangerously venomous, but there are few cases of rattlesnake bites in our state. It frequents rough country, is mostly nocturnal in summer and few Missourians ever encounter it.
  • Media
    Image of a western pygmy rattlesnake
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Sistrurus miliarius streckeri
    Description
    The western pygmy rattlesnake is small and colorful, with a slender tail and tiny rattle. Its vibrating rattle is a faint buzz that sounds like a grasshopper. It occurs in the eastern Missouri Ozarks and in some counties bordering Arkansas.