Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 54 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
image of Walker's Cicada clinging to a perch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Neotibicen spp. (in Missouri) (formerly Tibicen)
Description
Annual cicadas look like larger and greener versions of the famous periodical cicadas. Annual cicadas go through a life cycle of only about 2–5 years, and some are present every year — thus they are called annual.
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
Black-legged meadow katydid female
Species Types
Scientific Name
Orchelimum nigripes
Description
The black-legged meadow katydid is a gorgeous, strikingly marked katydid that hides among foliage. They are secretive and quick to hop away or move to the other side of a plant stem.
Media
Photo of a meloe blister beetle, female, on ground
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 400 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The name is a warning: blister beetles are famous for their chemical defenses. Beetles in this family can exude an oil that can cause a person’s skin to blister.
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
Common green darner dragonfly perched on a dried flowering stalk, viewed from above
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anax junius
Description
The common green darner is abundant and well-known for its bright green, blue, and purple colors. A large dragonfly up to 3 inches long, it is a migratory species that travels south in autumn.
Media
Common meadow katydid female viewed from the side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Orchelimum vulgare
Description
The common meadow katydid is aptly named: it is well-known and widespread in the eastern United States. Listen for its distinctive call — like a pulsating circular lawn sprinkler ratcheting around — in midsummer to the first hard frost.
Media
image of a Common True Katydid
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pterophylla camellifolia
Description
The common true katydid is a master mimic. Its bright green color matches surrounding leaves, and its wings are veined like leaves as well.
Media
Photo of an adult damselfly on a twig next to water.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Species in the suborder Zygoptera
Description
Like dragonflies, damselflies have long bodies, two pairs of long, membranous, finely veined wings, and predaceous aquatic larvae that have extendible mouthparts. Damselflies typically hold their wings together, above the body.
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.