Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 27 results
Media
image of Xystodesmid Millipede crawling on a forest floor
Species Types
Scientific Name
8 tribes, with about 23 genera, in North America north of Mexico
Description
Millipedes in family Xystodesmidae often have bright colors that serve as a warning to potential predators that they may secrete foul or toxic substances.
Media
Male eastern Hercules beetle walking in grass
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dynastes tityus
Description
The eastern Hercules beetle is a breathtaking animal. Like its Greek-hero namesake, it is big and strong. Males have horns; females do not. Hercules beetles are harmless to people.
Media
Photo of a giant walkingstick
Species Types
Scientific Name
Megaphasma denticrus
Description
The giant walkingstick is the largest insect in North America, with females up to 7 inches long. The middle and hind legs have spines. Males have a single, large spine on each hind leg.
Media
Photo of walkingsticks during outbreak
Species Types
Scientific Name
Diapheromera femorata
Description
The northern walkingstick is Missouri's most common species of walkingstick. It is perfectly camouflaged for a life in trees and shrubs. They not only look like twigs but also sway their bodies to mimic the motion of branches in a breeze.
Media
Photo of a meloe blister beetle, female, on ground
Species Types
Scientific Name
Meloe spp.
Description
Blister beetles in the genus Meloe are called oil beetles because of a yellowish oil they excrete from their joints when squeezed or distressed. This oil contains cantharidin, an irritating chemical that can cause blistering in many people.
Media
Photo of a male giant stag beetle on moss
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lucanus elaphus
Description
The giant stag beetle is enormous, the males reaching 1½ inches in length without the mandibles, and nearly 2½ with them. Look for them on rotting logs in forests in early summer. They’re also attracted to lights.
Media
Earthworm on the surface of granular soil
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 175 species in North America
Description
Earthworms are familiar to just about everyone who digs in the soil. They play a major role in the nutrient cycling and structure of soils. There are many species. The most familiar ones in Missouri are nonnative.
Media
Photo of a male Banded Pennant dragonfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Species in the suborder Anisoptera
Description
Like damselflies, dragonflies have long bodies, two pairs of long, membranous, finely veined wings, and predaceous aquatic larvae. Dragonflies typically hold their wings stretched outward, horizontally.
Media
Female Carolina mantis
Species Types
Scientific Name
Stagomantis carolina, Mantis religiosa, and Tenodera sinensis
Description
Most people recognize mantids, or mantises, when they see them, but it takes more practice to distinguish among the different species of these efficient insect predators.
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.
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.