Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 21 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 giant red-headed centipede.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Scolopendra heros
Description
The bright colors of the giant redheaded 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
Red milkweed beetle eating a common milkweed leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,000 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Longhorned beetles are elongated and cylindrical, with antennae that are at least half the length of the body — sometimes much longer. The larvae are grubs that bore in wood or other plants. Some are serious pests.
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 an adult stonefly on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 700 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Stoneflies have a lot in common with mayflies, caddisflies, dragonflies, and dobsonflies: They begin life as aquatic larvae, then molt and become winged adults. Many fish find stoneflies irresistible, and anglers know it.
Media
Common true katydid female on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 250 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Katydids are a family of insects that may also be called longhorned grasshoppers, because of their super-long antennae. Many resemble green leaves. Others are brown. Populations of some species may be bright pink.
Media
image of a Carolina Grasshopper
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 620 species in North America
Description
The short-horned grasshopper family includes many familiar jumpers. They are named for their antennae, which are relatively short compared to those in the "long-horned" or katydid group.
Media
Image of a female Argiope garden spider.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Argiope aurantia
Description
The black-and-yellow garden spider is large but harmless. It sets up large, circular webs in gardens and grasslands. Lucky gardeners can host this remarkable pest exterminator all season long.
Media
Narceus Millipede crawling across gravel
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 900 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Millipedes, which have two pairs of legs per body segment, are harmless detritus-eaters, move slowly, and curl up defensively when harassed.
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.
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.