Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 18 results
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 northern walkingstick on autumn dogwood leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Diapheromera femorata, Megaphasma denticrus, and others
Description
Walkingsticks are long, slender insects that are perfectly camouflaged to look like brown or green twigs. Most species are tropical, but some types are found in Missouri.
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
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
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
Glossy black spider wasp manipulating paralyzed spider
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 300 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
People notice spider wasps when they notice a female lugging a captured spider to its doom. In most cases, she will drag the spider into a burrow, lay an egg on the spider, and then hunt for more spiders!
Media
image of an Ichneumon Wasp on tree trunk
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 5,000 species in North America
Description
Most ichneumon wasps are harmless, although the long ovipositor of the female is intimidating. Their larvae live as parasites inside caterpillars and other larval insects.
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?
Media
Longhorn bee visiting a flower, viewed from side
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,000 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Many apid bees are well-known. This family includes the familiar honeybee, bumblebees, and carpenter bees, plus many that are less well-known. With few exceptions, most of Missouri's apid bees are native, solitary species.
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.