Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 168 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
Photo of a land snail crawling on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Approx. 150 species of land snails and slugs in Missouri
Description
Most people know land snails and slugs when they see these interesting animals. Missouri has about 150 species in 25 families.
Media
Black-legged meadow katydid female
Species Types
Scientific Name
Orchelimum nigripes
Description
The black-legged meadow katydid is a gorgeous, strikingly marked katydid that hides among foliage. They are secretive and quick to hop away or move to the other side of a plant stem.
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
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
Photo of a great black wasp on a bindweed flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sphex pensylvanicus
Description
A strikingly large black wasp with smoky black wings that shine with blue iridescence, the great black wasp is often seen busily eating nectar and pollen from flowers in summertime.
Media
image of Bald-faced Hornet on Goldenrod
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dolichovespula maculata
Description
Bald-faced hornets are fairly large social wasps. They are mostly black, with white or ivory markings on the face, thorax, and toward the tip of the abdomen. They make large, rounded, papery, gray nests, usually in trees and shrubs.
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.
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.