Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 28 results
Media
brokenray
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampsilis reeveiana
Description
The Arkansas brokenray only occurs in streams that flow south off of the Salem and Springfield plateaus, so it is found only in about the southern quarter of Missouri.
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
Bluefer
Species Types
Scientific Name
Potamilus purpuratus
Description
Like the pink heelsplitter and fragile and pink papershells, the bluefer uses freshwater drum as a host.
Media
Photo of a bristly cave crayfish, viewed from the side.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cambarus setosus
Description
The bristly cave crayfish is a whitish crayfish with small, unpigmented eyes and long, slender pincers with noticeable setae (bristles). It lives in caves in the Springfield Plateau region of the Ozarks.
Media
Gray, speckled, translucent gelatinous blob cut in half to show structure
Species Types
Scientific Name
Freshwater species in the phylum Bryozoa
Description
Bryozoans are tiny, filter-feeding invertebrates. They create colonies that can be mossy, branching, or round and jellylike.
Media
Photo of a papershell crayfish, also called calico crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius immunis (formerly Orconectes immunis)
Description
The calico crayfish is rather plain: gray-green with a pale central zone along the middle of the carapace and abdomen. The pincers are orange-tipped, and in mature males are tinged with purple. It is usually only found in the northern half of the state.
Media
deertoe
Species Types
Scientific Name
Truncilla truncata
Description
A common mussel in some areas, deertoe have decorative green markings.
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
elktoe
Species Types
Scientific Name
Alasmidonta marginata
Description
The elktoe is one of many Missouri mussels with a declining population.
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.
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.