Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 29 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 Walker's Cicada clinging to a perch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Neotibicen spp. (in Missouri) (formerly Tibicen)
Description
Annual cicadas look like larger and greener versions of the famous periodical cicadas. Annual cicadas go through a life cycle of only about 2–5 years, and some are present every year — thus they are called annual.
Media
several yellow aphids on plant
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 1,300 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Aphids are common, small, soft-bodied insects that suck plant juices. To see them well, you probably need a hand lens, but the damage they do to plants can be all too obvious!
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 Toad Bug
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gelastocoris oculatus
Description
With their bulging eyes and squat shape, big-eyed toad bugs really do look a lot like tiny toads. Their genus name means "laughable bug" or "ridiculous bug."
Media
Citrus flatid planthopper on twig
Species Types
Scientific Name
Metcalfa pruinosa
Description
The citrus flatid planthopper has a waxy coating and can look gray or tan. It eats a wide variety of plants.
Media
Photo of a dull colored spittlebug adult on a twig
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lepyronia quadrangularis
Description
The diamondback spittlebug is common in weedy areas. The larvae live protected in spitty masses of foam. The adults are drab and well camouflaged, so few people notice them.
Media
Dogwood spittlebug resting on the edge of a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Clastoptera proteus
Description
The adult dogwood spittlebug has distinctive black and yellow markings. It feeds on dogwoods, blueberries, and their relatives.
Media
Ebony bug resting in the palm of a person’s hand
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 40 species in 3 genera in North America north of Mexico
Description
Ebony bugs are definitely true bugs, but they look a lot like tiny, shiny black beetles. Their bodies are fat ovals. They’re almost always seen on flower clusters and immature seeds, often on members of the carrot or parsley family.
Media
Green stink bug on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chinavia hilaris (formerly Acrosternum hilare)
Description
The green stink bug is one of many species of stink bugs. Like others in their family, they emit a foul odor when they are harassed or crushed.
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.