Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 14 results
Media
Photo of a robber fly, genus Ommatius, perched on a wall.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ommatius spp.
Description
Ommatius robber flies are medium-sized robber flies with distinctively branching antennae. There are about four of five species that might occur in Missouri.
Media
image of Bee Fly on leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 800 species in North America
Description
Resembling bees, or sometimes big, fuzzy mosquitoes, bee flies are a family of true flies and are not bees at all. Lacking the ability to sting, their bee mimicry helps them avoid many would-be predators.
Media
image of a Flower Fly on a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 900 species in North America
Description
Harmless flies and valuable pollinators, flower flies are incredibly convincing mimics of bees, wasps, and yellowjackets. Recognize them as true flies by their single pair of wings, short antennae, and flylike compound eyes.
Media
image of a Midge
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 1,100 species in North America
Description
Midges are dainty flies that resemble mosquitoes. They often dance together in the air in huge swarms. Unlike their problematic cousins, they are harmless and do not bite.
Media
Large crane fly perched on a white-painted surface, side view
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Many people are frightened of crane flies, which resemble huge mosquitoes. But crane flies don’t bite or suck blood. In fact, as adults, most of them don’t have mouths at all!
Media
image of a Stilt-Legged Fly on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 30 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Stilt-legged flies are a family of true flies. They are harmless, but most species resemble ichneumon wasps or ants. The middle and back pairs of legs are exceptionally long and thin, while the front pair of legs are much shorter.
Media
image of greenbottle fly on carcass
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 84 species in North America.
Description
Many blow flies are so shiny and colorful they’re called greenbottles and bluebottles. But pretty as they are, it’s hard not to be repulsed by their larval diets.
Media
Deer bot fly Cephenemyia phobifer resting on a support beam at the top of a fire tower
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 40 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Bot flies are chunky, beelike flies usually with rounded heads. Adults are not commonly seen. The larvae are short, pudgy, segmented grubs that live as parasites in the tissues of animals. Those that live just under the skin often form a bulge. Some types live in the nasal or throat cavities of deer.
Media
Tachinid fly visiting a mint flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,350 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Tachinid flies are one of the largest families of flies. They are parasitic flies whose larvae are parasitoids of other insects. They look a lot like house flies, blow or bottle flies, wasps, or bees. Many are very bristly.
Media
mosquito resting on a white fabric
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 50 species of mosquitoes in Missouri
Description
Mosquitoes are small flies that look a lot like their cousins in the fly family, the crane flies and midges. Female mosquitoes, however, drink blood from vertebrate animals.
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.