Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 51 results
Media
Elongate-bodied springtail on a brown leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 8,000 species globally
Description
Springtails, like insects, have six legs, but these tiny rounded, oval, or elongated creatures that hop quickly into the air are not insects. They have a separate lineage and many structural differences.
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.
Media
Photo of a Xysticus crab spider, tan individual
Species Types
Scientific Name
Xysticus spp.
Description
Missouri has several species of ground crab spiders in the genus Xysticus. They are usually dull gray or brown with brown, white, or yellow markings. They typically live under bark or on the ground in leaf litter.
Media
Photo of a whitebanded crab spider, yellow individual, on ox-eye daisy flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Misumenoides formosipes
Description
The whitebanded crab spider is a small, whitish-yellow or yellowish-brown crab spider commonly found in flower heads. Often its carapace is slightly greenish, with a broad whitish-yellow midband bordered by darker, thinner sides of yellowish brown.
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.
Media
image of Walker's Cicada clinging to a perch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Neotibicen spp. (in Missouri) (formerly Tibicen)
Description
Annual cicadas look like larger and greener versions of the famous periodical cicadas. Annual cicadas go through a life cycle of only about 2–5 years, and some are present every year — thus they are called annual.
Media
Photo of a picture-winged fly
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 130 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Named for the ornate color patterns on their wings, picture-winged flies are small or medium-sized flies whose larvae often feed on decaying materials. If you have a compost heap, you will probably see these flies.
Media
Peacock fly resting on a thistle leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 300 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Tephretid fruit flies, in the family Tephritidae, are often called peacock flies for the intricately patterned, often brightly colored wings of many species.
Media
Photo of a Harvestman, viewed from above
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 6,500 species have been named so far, worldwide.
Description
Daddy longlegs, or harvestmen, are familiar Missouri animals. They are not spiders, but opilionids. Unlike spiders, they have a fused body form and lack silk and venom glands.
Media
filmy dome spider
Species Types
Scientific Name
Neriene radiata (formerly Prolinyphia marginata)
Description
The filmy dome spider is one of the most abundant woodland spiders in Missouri. Although the spider is tiny, its snare web, which looks like an upside-down silk bowl, is conspicuous throughout the year.
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.