Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 13 results
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
several yellow aphids on plant
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 1,300 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Aphids are common, small, soft-bodied insects that suck plant juices. To see them well, you probably need a hand lens, but the damage they do to plants can be all too obvious!
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 Toad Bug
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gelastocoris oculatus
Description
With their bulging eyes and squat shape, big-eyed toad bugs really do look a lot like tiny toads. Their genus name means "laughable bug" or "ridiculous bug."
Media
Underside of hackberry leaf showing hackberry nipple galls
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pachypsylla spp.
Description
Hackberry psyllids are a genus of tiny, planthopper-like bugs. As larvae, they develop within the leaves, twigs, buds, or bark of hackberry trees. The trees form warty galls in response to their presence. In the fall, tiny adult hackberry psyllids cling to window screens.
Media
Lace bugs on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 165 species in North American north of Mexico
Description
Grayish, small, flattened, and rectangular, lace bugs have a lacy network of ridges on the wings and body. They suck nutrients from foliage with their beaks. The resulting pale spots on leaves might be the first sign of their presence.
Media
image of a Leafhopper on leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 3,000 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The leafhoppers are a large and diverse family of sap-sucking, hopping insects. You can distinguish them from similar groups of hoppers by the hind legs, which have at least one row of small spines on the hind tibiae (“shins”).
Media
Tarnished plant bug resting on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 2,000 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Plant bugs, or mirids, are a huge family of true bugs. They are often overlooked — except by gardeners and farmers. Most mirids eat plants, and some are agricultural pests. As a group, they’re an important food source for birds and other insectivores.
Media
Acanaloniid planthopper, green, viewed from side
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 900 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Planthoppers are a large and diverse group of small hopping bugs. They tend to be less abundant than other types of hoppers.
Media
Spiny assassin bug walking on a white napkin
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sinea spinipes
Description
The spiny assassin bug is one of nearly 200 species of assassin bugs in North America. It walks, hops, and flies to capture its insect prey.
See Also
Media
Photo of a Yellow-Collared Scape Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cisseps fulvicollis
Description
The yellow-collared scape moth is more often “orange-collared.” And whether you think it looks more like a firefly or a wasp, it’s still a moth!
Media
image of Plume Moth on blade of grass
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 150 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Slim, delicate plume moths are instantly recognizable by their T-shaped silhouette, long legs, and muted shades of tan and brown. It can be hard to separate the various species.
Media
Photo of an Isabella Tiger Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pyrrharctia isabella
Description
Not many people know the adult Isabella tiger moth when they see one, but we’re all acquainted with its caterpillar, the woolly worm, or woolly bear.

About Land Invertebrates in Missouri

Invertebrates are animals without backbones, including earthworms, slugs, snails, and arthropods. Arthropods—invertebrates with “jointed legs” — are a group of invertebrates that includes crayfish, shrimp, millipedes, centipedes, mites, spiders, and insects. There may be as many as 10 million species of insects alive on earth today, and they probably constitute more than 90 percent all animal species.