Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 67 results
Media
Marbled orbweaver spider in web
Species Types
Scientific Name
Araneus spp.
Description
Missouri's Araneus spiders, called angulate and roundshouldered orbweavers, can be hard to identify to species. Most have camouflage patterns, and they all make characteristic, delicate, wheel-shaped webs to catch prey.
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
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
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.
Media
Photo of a spotted orbweaver or barn spider, Neoscona crucifera, with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Neoscona crucifera
Description
A widespread species, the barn spider commonly builds its webs in woods and on the eaves of barns, houses, and similar structures.
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
Image of a black widow
Species Types
Scientific Name
Latrodectus mactans and L. variolus
Description
The glossy, black-bodied female black widow spider has distinctive red spots on the underside of the abdomen. Only the female can inflict a potentially dangerous bite. The small, seldom-seen male is harmless.
Media
Image of a female Argiope garden spider.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Argiope aurantia
Description
The black-and-yellow garden spider is large but harmless. It sets up large, circular webs in gardens and grasslands. Lucky gardeners can host this remarkable pest exterminator all season long.
Media
Photo of a meloe blister beetle, female, on ground
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 400 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The name is a warning: blister beetles are famous for their chemical defenses. Beetles in this family can exude an oil that can cause a person’s skin to blister.
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.