Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 16 results
Media
image of Bee Fly on leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 800 species in North America
Description
Resembling bees, or sometimes big, fuzzy mosquitoes, bee flies are a family of true flies and are not bees at all. Lacking the ability to sting, their bee mimicry helps them avoid many would-be predators.
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 a green-eyed robber fly depositing eggs into Missouri ironweed flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Promachus vertebratus
Description
The green robber fly is one of several species of robber flies called giant robber flies or bee killers. They are indeed large, with distinctive yellow and dark stripes on the abdomen and iridescent green eyes.
Media
image of Horse Fly on tree trunk
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tabanus, Chrysops, and related genera
Description
Meet the horse fly: Stealthily, one will land on your back, slice your skin, and lap your blood. By the time it starts to hurt and you swat at it, the painful, itchy welt is rising.
Media
Large crane fly perched on a white-painted surface, side view
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Many people are frightened of crane flies, which resemble huge mosquitoes. But crane flies don’t bite or suck blood. In fact, as adults, most of them don’t have mouths at all!
Media
image of a Midge
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 1,100 species in North America
Description
Midges are dainty flies that resemble mosquitoes. They often dance together in the air in huge swarms. Unlike their problematic cousins, they are harmless and do not bite.
Media
mosquito resting on a white fabric
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 50 species of mosquitoes in Missouri
Description
Mosquitoes are small flies that look a lot like their cousins in the fly family, the crane flies and midges. Female mosquitoes, however, drink blood from vertebrate animals.
Media
Moth fly resting on a white surface, viewed from above
Species Types
Scientific Name
Members of subfamily Psychodinae
Description
Moth flies look like tiny, hairy moths. People usually notice them perching next to sinks in the bathroom or kitchen. When disturbed, they usually don't fly very far before landing again, for they are weak fliers.
Media
image of a Mydas Fly
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 80 species in North America
Description
Mydas flies are quite large, and although they resemble wasps, they are harmless. Note that all true flies have only one pair of wings. Also note the clubbed antennae (unusual for flies).
Media
Photo of a robber fly, genus Ommatius, perched on a wall.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ommatius spp.
Description
Ommatius robber flies are medium-sized robber flies with distinctively branching antennae. There are about four of five species that might occur in Missouri.
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.