Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 30 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
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
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
Calico pennant dragonfly perched on a twig
Species Types
Scientific Name
Celithemis elisa
Description
The calico pennant is a colorful, beautifully marked dragonfly. Males have pink wing veins and females have yellow. Males have a row of bright reddish heart-shapes on the abdomen; females have yellow.
Media
Image of Tomentose Burying Beetle crawling on the ground
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nicrophorus, Necrophila, Necrodes, and others
Description
Beetles in the family Silphidae are called carrion beetles, burying beetles, and sexton beetles. They are usually black and often have red, orange, or yellow markings. Members of this group eat dead animals or scavenge dung or decaying plant material.
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 a giant red-headed centipede.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Scolopendra heros
Description
The bright colors of the giant red-headed centipede have a message for you: Handle with great care! It’s of the few centipedes in our state capable of inflicting a painful, venomous bite.
Media
Image of a great golden digger wasp.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sphex ichneumoneus
Description
A large solitary wasp, the great golden digger wasp occurs throughout Missouri. The abdomen is orange in front and black at the end. The head and thorax have golden hairs. Like all solitary wasps, this species is not aggressive.
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.