Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 8 of 8 results
Media
Jagged ambush bug on a plant stem
Species Types
Scientific Name
Phymata spp. and others in subfamily Phymatinae (ambush bugs)
Description
Ambush bugs are a subfamily of assassin bugs. They’re chunky, small insects with powerful grasping forelegs. They hide motionless in flowers waiting for prey to venture near.
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
Image of a black widow
Species Types
Scientific Name
Latrodectus mactans and L. variolus
Description
The glossy, black-bodied female black widow spider has distinctive red spots on the underside of the abdomen. Only the female can inflict a potentially dangerous bite. The small, seldom-seen male is harmless.
Media
Closeup of brown recluse spider on floor.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Loxosceles reclusa
Description
The brown recluse is one spider to avoid. It is venomous, though a bite is almost never fatal. Brown recluses are most commonly encountered in houses, where they occupy little-used drawers, closets, and other small hiding spaces.
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
Orange assassin bug walking on tree bark at Mint Spring
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pselliopus barberi
Description
The orange assassin bug, Pselliopus barberi, is about ½ inch long and is one of our most attractive non-butterfly insects. They overwinter in groups as adults under loose bark.
Media
striped bark scorpion on a rock
Species Types
Scientific Name
Centruroides vittatus
Description
Striped bark scorpions are pale yellowish brown, usually with two lengthwise dark stripes on the abdomen. It is the only species of scorpion in Missouri. It occurs in glades and other dry, warm, rocky areas, and sometimes in buildings and shelters and under piles of wood, brush, or garbage.
Media
image of a Wheel Bug, Side View
Species Types
Scientific Name
Arilus cristatus
Description
The wheel bug is a large gray or brown insect that carries something interesting on its back: Is it a cog, or a wheel, or a circular saw blade?
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.