Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 99 results
Media
A reddish centipede crawls over a rock
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hundreds of species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Centipedes are familiar to anyone who has overturned rocks and logs, sifted through leaf litter, or dug in the soil. Learn more about Missouri's members of class Chilopoda.
Media
Image of a differential grasshopper.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Melanoplus differentialis
Description
The differential grasshopper is familiar to most Missourians. Originally it lived only in wet meadows and creek bottomlands, but with the spread of farms, it has become a pest of many food crops.
Media
Image of a red-legged grasshopper.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Melanoplus femurrubrum
Description
The red-legged grasshopper is a type of short-horned grasshopper common in Missouri. It reaches about 1 inch in length and is often seen flicking or flying away in open habitats.
Media
A metallic green sweat bee gathering pollen on a yellow flowerhead
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Missouri has many species of halictid bees, or sweat bees. Some are solitary, but a number show different levels of social behavior. They're named for their attraction to perspiration, which offers them precious moisture and salts.
Media
Honeybee worker on flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apis mellifera
Description
The honeybee is the major pollinator of many field crops and almost all tree fruits. It is the world's most beneficial insect. In 1985 it was named the official state insect of Missouri.
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 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
image of Firefly crawling on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Approx. 175 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Fireflies are amazing beetles that use “cold light” (bioluminescence) to attract mates. They are commonly seen as they fly and glow in summer evenings.
Media
image of Soldier Beetle on Goldenrod
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Soldier beetles are most often seen on flowers. Many species in this family are pollinators. Yellow, orange, and red are their most common colors, besides black and brown.
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.
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.