Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 33 results
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!
Media
Photo of a pink planarian on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dugesia, Planaria, and other genera
Description
Unlike their parasitic cousins in the flatworm group, turbellarians, or planarians, are tiny carnivores or detritus-eaters that glide smoothly across submerged leaves and other objects.
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 hellgrammite
Species Types
Scientific Name
Corydalus cornutus
Description
Hellgrammites are the aquatic larval form of eastern dobsonflies. They are fiercely predaceous and look a little like centipedes. Anglers often use them as bait.
Media
Photo of a horsehair worm in an aquarium
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 350 species scientifically described.
Description
Adult horsehair worms can be nearly 3 feet long and live in water. They are practically featureless, smooth, aquatic worms that writhe into knots and curls.
Media
Photo of a White River crawfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Procambarus acutus
Description
Adult White River crawfish are usually a deep burgundy red with a black V-shaped stripe on the abdomen. Juveniles are gray with dark spots scattered over the carapace. In Missouri, this species mostly occurs in the Bootheel and north along the Mississippi River.
Media
Photo of a northern, also called virile, crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius virilis (formerly Oronectes virilis)
Description
The virile crayfish is large, reddish brown or green, and lacks prominent markings. The pincers are green with orange tips and are studded with whitish knobs. Paired dark blotches run along the abdomen. This species is widespread.
Media
Photo of a shrimp crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius lancifer (formerly Orconectes lancifer)
Description
The shrimp crayfish is medium-small, light reddish brown to gray, and thickly dusted with darker specks. Its noselike rostrum is unusually long, with the tip longer than the base, and the pincers are narrow and weak. It is found in the Bootheel.
Media
Photo of a water nymph crayfish, side view of specimen carefully arranged against black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius nais (formerly Orconectes nais)
Description
The water nymph crayfish is normally found in streams but can also be found in a variety of other aquatic habitats. It is greenish brown or brown with no prominent markings. Its known distribution in Missouri is spotty.
Media
Photo of a longpincered crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius longidigitus (formerly Orconectes longidigitus)
Description
The longpincered crayfish is large and colorful, with very long, slender, blue-green pincers that are studded with prominent yellowish knobs. It is restricted to the White River basin in the Ozarks.
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.