Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 38 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
Chinese mantis
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tenodera sinensis (formerly T. aridifolia)
Description
The Chinese mantis is a large, green and tan ambush predator. This nonnative insect is often called a “praying mantis” because the front legs resemble hands folded in prayer.
Media
image of a Summer Fishfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chauliodes, Neohermes, and Nigronia spp. (in eastern US)
Description
Adult fishflies look a lot like female dobsonflies. Fishflies lack the large, tusklike pincers that male dobsonflies are famous for.
Media
Photo of eastern dobsonfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Corydalus cornutus
Description
Adult eastern dobsonflies are huge and mothlike, with large wings and a weak, fluttery flight. The fiercely predaceous aquatic larvae, called hellgrammites, are well-known to anglers, who often use them as bait.
Media
Photo of adult antlion with wings spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 100 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Adult antlions look something like drab damselflies. These insects are most familiar in their immature stages, called doodlebugs, which create pits in sand for trapping ants.
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
photo of a male reddish-brown stag beetle
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 40 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Stag beetles are a family that, though not very colorful, have prominent pincers! Male stag beetles usually have enlarged, sometimes astonishing jaws. These “antlers” give rise to the common name.
Media
Click beetle resting on a brick wall
Species Types
Scientific Name
Approximately 1,000 species in North America
Description
Their streamlined shape is distinctive, but the behavior of click beetles is even more unique: Placed on their backs, these beetles flip suddenly into the air with an audible click.
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
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.
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.