Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 18 results
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
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
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
image of Fiery Searcher on dead leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 2,400 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Ground beetles are mostly nocturnal or light-shunning beetles that tend to be shiny black and have grooved wing covers. This group also includes tiger beetles, however, which includes many colorful daytime fliers.
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
Swamp milkweed leaf beetle on a leaf it has chewed on.
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 2,000 species in North America
Description
Leaf beetles, or chrysomelid beetles, are members of a large, diverse beetle family. As the name suggests, they eat leaves and other plant parts and are common on foliage.
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
Photo of an orchard orbweaver with a black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Leucauge venusta
Description
The orchard orbweaver is a small, colorful, greenish, delicate spider that makes circular webs in low bushes and damp woodlands. It typically hangs in the middle of its web, its back to the ground.
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.