Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 42 results
Media
Virginia flower fly resting on a concrete surface
Species Types
Scientific Name
Milesia virginiensis
Description
The yellowjacket hover fly, or Virginia flower fly, is a completely harmless mimic of yellowjackets. No more dangerous than a housefly, it buzzes around and seems aggressive.
Media
Several termite workers and a soldier in a gallery in wood
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 50 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
People often confuse termites with ants. Termites have a fairly cylindrical body, only slightly narrowed behind the head. Termites also have a pronotum, a shieldlike plate behind the head.
Media
Acrobat ants on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 700 species in North America
Description
Ants are everywhere! They outnumber us a million to one. These colonial insects are familiar to everyone on Earth. Their lives are endlessly fascinating.
Media
image of Bald-faced Hornet on Goldenrod
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dolichovespula maculata
Description
Bald-faced hornets are fairly large social wasps. They are mostly black, with white or ivory markings on the face, thorax, and toward the tip of the abdomen. They make large, rounded, papery, gray nests, usually in trees and shrubs.
Media
image of Black-and-Yellow Mud Dauber
Species Types
Scientific Name
Three genera: Sceliphron, Trypoxylon, and Chalybion
Description
Mud daubers are among the most familiar solitary wasps. They belong to a number of related groups, but we call them all "mud daubers" because they all build their nests out of mud. One way to tell the different mud daubers apart is by the distinctive architecture they use.
Media
image of a Feather-Legged Fly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Trichopoda spp.
Description
Feather-legged flies are a genus in the tachinid fly family. They are beelike and have a feathery fringe of hairs on their hind legs, resembling the pollen basket of honeybees.
Media
Wood cockroach crawling on tree
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 100 species of cockroaches and termites in North America north of Mexico
Description
Cockroaches well-known: they are flattened, small, brown or black, often shiny insects that can hide in tight crevices and lack specialized appendages. Recently, termites have been included in their order.
Media
Photo of a female scorpionfly perched on a leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Panorpa spp.
Description
Male scorpionflies will make you look twice, because the abdomen is tipped with what looks like a scorpion stinger! These nifty insects cannot sting, however.
Media
Longhorn bee closeup of head showing long antennae and yellow face
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 200 species of tribe Eucerini (longhorn bees) in North America north of Mexico
Description
Longhorn bees are named for their long antennae, which make these fuzzy, medium-sized bees look rather cute. Many have yellow faces.
Media
Photo of an eastern yellowjacket
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vespula spp.
Description
Yellowjackets are bee-sized social wasps that build paper nests, usually underground. Their defensive stinging can make them a major pest when they nest near people.
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.