Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 20 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
Photo of a triangle orbweaver, or arrowhead spider
Species Types
Scientific Name
Verrucosa arenata
Description
In late summer and fall, woodland hikers can count on walking into the arrowhead spider's web. These webs are delicate circles that help the spider snare tiny flying insects.
Media
Two Asian lady beetles, one orange with several black spots, the other red with no spots
Species Types
Scientific Name
Harmonia axyridis
Description
The multicolored Asian lady beetle was imported to America to help control aphids. It is now well established and has become a nuisance, especially in fall when large numbers of them enter homes for shelter.
Media
magnified chigger
Species Types
Scientific Name
Trombicula alfreddugesi and other Trombicula spp. (syn. Eutrombicula)
Description
The worst thing about Missouri summers is chiggers. They are nearly invisible but leave itchy red welts. Avoid their habitat areas, especially after noon.
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
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.
Media
Photo of a goldenrod crab spider, whitish individual, on native aster flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Misumena vatia
Description
The goldenrod crab spider can change color from white to yellow, depending upon the blossom it's in. The female often has an orange or reddish stripe running along each side of the abdomen, extending from the front to about halfway down the side.
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
Seven-spotted lady beetle on a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Lady beetles are beloved for many reasons. Farmers like the way they devour injurious aphids and scale insects. Everyone else appreciates their bright colors and shiny, compact bodies.
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.