Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 12 results
Media
Photo of backswimmer, side view
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 32 North American species in the family Notonectidae
Description
Sometimes called “water bees” or “water wasps,” backswimmers are predaceous and can deliver a painful bite if mishandled. True to their name, they swim belly-up, and their backs are keeled like a boat, which makes back-swimming easier.
Media
Photo of a belted crayfish, also called Big River crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius harrisonii (formerly Orconectes harrisonii)
Description
The belted crayfish is medium-small, tan, with a distinctive pattern of alternating olive-green and reddish-brown bands on the abdominal segments. It is found only in the Big River and its tributaries.
Media
Photo of a coldwater crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius eupunctus (formerly Orconectes eupunctus)
Description
The coldwater crayfish has a very localized distribution in the Eleven Point River system. It is stout, with a blue-green head and pincers and dark, rust-brown carapace. It is an imperiled species.
Media
elephantear mussel half-buried in a gravel substrate
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elliptio crassidens
Description
Today found only in the Meramec River, the elephantear has been classified as endangered in Missouri and is a candidate for federal endangered status.
Media
ellipse
Species Types
Scientific Name
Venustaconcha ellipsiformis and V. pleasii
Description
These small mussels use darters, a type of fish, as hosts for their young.
Media
pond mussel
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bivalve molluscs in order Unionoida
Description
Secretive and seldom seen, freshwater mussels are extraordinarily diverse in Missouri. We have nearly 70 species within our borders. Many are declining, and several are endangered.
Media
Red midge fly larva, side view, in a petri dish
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 1,100 species in North America
Description
Midge larvae look something like thin aquatic inchworms. They can be clear, whitish, olive, tan, or bright red. They occur in a variety of aquatic habitats. As adults, they resemble mosquitoes but they never bite.
Media
pink mucket
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampsilis abrupta
Description
This endangered native mussel lives in flowing waters of large streams among gravel and cobble.
Media
Photo of a ringed crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius neglectus (formerly Orconectes neglectus)
Description
The ringed crayfish is olive green to reddish tan and usually has black or brown rings around the pincer tips. In Missouri it is found in clear, rocky Ozark streams in the southwestern quarter.
Media
round pigtoe
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pleurobema sintoxia
Description
Round pigtoes are more rounded than Wabash pigtoes. Usually, the nacre (the shell lining) is white, but in rare individuals it is bright pink.
See Also

About Aquatic Invertebrates in Missouri

Missouri's streams, lakes, and other aquatic habitats hold thousands of kinds of invertebrates — worms, freshwater mussels, snails, crayfish, insects, and other animals without backbones. These creatures are vital links in the aquatic food chain, and their presence and numbers tell us a lot about water quality.