Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 39 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 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
image of a Carolina Grasshopper
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dissosteira carolina
Description
The Carolina grasshopper is frequently seen in dusty, open habitats like dirt roads and vacant lots. Its yellow-bordered, black hindwings make it look like a mourning cloak butterfly.
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
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.
Media
Dogbane beetle resting on a window
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chrysochus auratus
Description
The shiny, iridescent dogbane beetle is one of Missouri's most beautiful insects. As the name indicates, this beautiful beetle feeds on dogbanes.
Media
Photo of a male Banded Pennant dragonfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Species in the suborder Anisoptera
Description
Like damselflies, dragonflies have long bodies, two pairs of long, membranous, finely veined wings, and predaceous aquatic larvae. Dragonflies typically hold their wings stretched outward, horizontally.
Media
Dung beetle rolling a dung ball
Species Types
Scientific Name
Subfamilies Scarabaeinae and Aphodiinae
Description
Horses, cattle, dogs, and deer all drop manna from above to eager dung beetles, which collect, hoard, and guard the precious organic materials left undigested in the pile.
Media
Photo of a green crab spider on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Mecaphesa spp. and Misumessus spp.
Description
The more obvious differences between foliage crab spiders and other flower crab spiders is that these generally are smaller, and their carapaces, abdomens, and legs are spiny.
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.