Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 71 results
Media
Photo of an American burying beetle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nicrophorus americanus
Description
The American burying beetle is endangered statewide and threatened nationally. Restoration efforts are under way. This brightly patterned beetle specializes in cleaning carrion from the landscape, burying dead mice, birds, and other creatures.
Media
image of a Thread-Waisted Wasp
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ammophila spp.
Description
There are more than 60 species of ammophila wasps in North America. They tend to be black, with orange on the abdomen. They are but one genus in the thread-waisted wasp family.
Media
Marbled orbweaver spider in web
Species Types
Scientific Name
Araneus spp.
Description
Missouri's Araneus spiders, called angulate and roundshouldered orbweavers, can be hard to identify to species. Most have camouflage patterns, and they all make characteristic, delicate, wheel-shaped webs to catch prey.
Media
Acrobat ants on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 700 species in North America
Description
Ants are everywhere! They outnumber us a million to one. These colonial insects are familiar to everyone on Earth. Their lives are endlessly fascinating.
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 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 a black widow
Species Types
Scientific Name
Latrodectus mactans and L. variolus
Description
The glossy, black-bodied female black widow spider has distinctive red spots on the underside of the abdomen. Only the female can inflict a potentially dangerous bite. The small, seldom-seen male is harmless.
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.
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.