Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 25 results
Media
image of Xystodesmid Millipede crawling on a forest floor
Species Types
Scientific Name
8 tribes, with about 23 genera, in North America north of Mexico
Description
Millipedes in family Xystodesmidae often have bright colors that serve as a warning to potential predators that they may secrete foul or toxic substances.
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
A metallic green sweat bee gathering pollen on a yellow flowerhead
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Missouri has many species of halictid bees, or sweat bees. Some are solitary, but a number show different levels of social behavior. They're named for their attraction to perspiration, which offers them precious moisture and salts.
Media
Earthworm on the surface of granular soil
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 175 species in North America
Description
Earthworms are familiar to just about everyone who digs in the soil. They play a major role in the nutrient cycling and structure of soils. There are many species. The most familiar ones in Missouri are nonnative.
Media
Female hooded grouse locust perched on a rock
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 30 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Members of the pygmy grasshopper family are small and have a distinctively elongated pronotum — this plate, which only covers the shoulders of most other grasshoppers, extends back to cover the abdomen in this family. Most live along streams and in other wet habitats.
Media
image of an Ichneumon Wasp on tree trunk
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 5,000 species in North America
Description
Most ichneumon wasps are harmless, although the long ovipositor of the female is intimidating. Their larvae live as parasites inside caterpillars and other larval insects.
Media
image of a Wheel Bug, Side View
Species Types
Scientific Name
Arilus cristatus
Description
The wheel bug is a large gray or brown insect that carries something interesting on its back: Is it a cog, or a wheel, or a circular saw blade?
Media
photo of a leafcutter bee
Species Types
Scientific Name
Megachile spp.
Description
Leafcutter bees are common throughout Missouri from late spring into early autumn. All are solitary. They are dark-colored with several whitish hair bands across the abdomen. One sign of their presence is the rounded holes they cut in the leaves of plants.
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
Tan stink bug on dead leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
In North America, more than 200 species in 64 genera
Description
Stink bugs are shield-shaped insects that can smell really bad. This is a large family of true bugs known for producing a foul odor when harassed.
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.