Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 12 results
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 Caddisfly on leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Adult caddisflies are mothlike. Their larvae are aquatic and build portable, protective cases out of local materials, including grains of sand, bits of leaves and twigs, and other debris.
Media
Click beetle resting on a brick wall
Species Types
Scientific Name
Approximately 1,000 species in North America
Description
Their streamlined shape is distinctive, but the behavior of click beetles is even more unique: Placed on their backs, these beetles flip suddenly into the air with an audible click.
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
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
Photo of a land snail crawling on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Approx. 150 species of land snails and slugs in Missouri
Description
Most people know land snails and slugs when they see these interesting animals. Missouri has about 150 species in 25 families.
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
Red milkweed beetle eating a common milkweed leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,000 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Longhorned beetles are elongated and cylindrical, with antennae that are at least half the length of the body — sometimes much longer. The larvae are grubs that bore in wood or other plants. Some are serious pests.
Media
Narceus Millipede crawling across gravel
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 900 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Millipedes, which have two pairs of legs per body segment, are harmless detritus-eaters, move slowly, and curl up defensively when harassed.
Media
Male eastern Hercules beetle walking in grass
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,700 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The scarab beetle family is very large, with breathtaking variety — and often great beauty. Many scarabs are large and colorful.
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.