Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 37 results
Media
Green mantidfly perched on a screen window
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 11 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Mantidflies look like a cross between a lacewing insect and a praying mantis. They are small, delicate creatures with intricately veined wings, but the front half looks like a mantid, complete with raptorial forelegs.
Media
Photo of a northern crab spider
Species Types
Scientific Name
Mecaphesa asperata
Description
The northern crab spider has many spiny hairs covering the top surfaces of the carapace, abdomen, and legs, and it has usually has greenish-yellow or yellow-brown markings.
Media
Photo of a green crab spider on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Misumessus oblongus (formerly Misumenops oblonga)
Description
The green crab spider has spines, and the entire body and legs are pale green to silvery white. Like other crab spiders, its legs extend outward from the sides, and it can walk in any direction.
Media
Newly emerged adult pronghorn clubtail dragonfly perched on a grass stem
Species Types
Scientific Name
Phanogomphus graslinellus
Description
The pronghorn clubtail is one of several members of its genus in our area that are generally difficult to identify. Like other dragonflies, it is an aerial predator that hunts insects on the wing.
Media
Photo of a spotted orbweaver or barn spider, Neoscona crucifera, with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Neoscona spp.
Description
Missouri's Neoscona spiders, called spotted orbweavers, can be hard to identify to species. Most have camouflage patterns, and they all make the characteristic, delicate, wheel-shaped webs to catch prey.
Media
image of Sand Wasp perched on sand
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 1,200 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Many species and genera of sand wasps occur in Missouri. They nest in the ground during summer. They are found in many habitats but most often in open, sandy areas along rivers.
Media
image of greenbottle fly on carcass
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 84 species in North America.
Description
Many blow flies are so shiny and colorful they’re called greenbottles and bluebottles. But pretty as they are, it’s hard not to be repulsed by their larval diets.
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 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
Two-marked treehopper clinging to a stem
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 260 species in North America North of Mexico
Description
Treehoppers can resemble thorns, bark, weird plant bumps, or tiny leaves. If you can recognize one of these as an insect, you're doing well!
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.