Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 56 results
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 leech
Species Types
Scientific Name
Various species in the subclass Hirudinea
Description
Most people are repulsed by leeches. But once you get past the fact that many species are parasitic bloodsuckers, you will discover that they are fascinating creatures with an important role in nature.
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 an aquatic isopod in an aquarium, crawling on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Freshwater members of the crustacean order Isopoda
Description
Everyone knows about terrestrial sowbugs and pillbugs, but many isopod species are aquatic. Missouri has several isopods that live in streams, ponds, rivers, and caves.
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
fatmucket
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampsilis siliquoidea
Description
The fatmucket was a favorite species harvested for the button industry in the early 1900s.
Media
giant floater
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pygandon grandis
Description
When a floater dies, this large mussel with a thick shell will actually rise to the water surface and float as it decays.
Media
lilliput
Species Types
Scientific Name
Toxolasma parvus
Description
These diminutive mollusks are the smallest of Missouri’s freshwater mussels.
Media
maple leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Quadrula quadrula
Description
The mapleleaf spawns in the summer, using catfish as a host.
Media
paper pondshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Utterbackia imbecillis
Description
Unlike most other freshwater mussels, this species is hermaphrodic: An individual mussel can be both male and female.
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.