Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 16 results
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
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 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
Closeup of brown recluse spider on floor.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Loxosceles reclusa
Description
The brown recluse is a spider whose venomous bite may be medically significant to humans, though a bite is almost never fatal. Brown recluses are most commonly encountered in houses, where they occupy little-used drawers, closets, and other small hiding spaces.
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
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
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
image of Fiery Searcher on dead leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 2,400 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Ground beetles are mostly nocturnal or light-shunning beetles that tend to be shiny black and have grooved wing covers. This group also includes tiger beetles, however, which includes many colorful daytime fliers.
Media
Female pigeon tremex resting on a concrete surface
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 28 species in North America
Description
Horntails look a lot like wasps but have a taillike spine that projects from the tip of the abdomen. Their cylindrical bodies also lack the narrow waist so common in wasps.
Media
Large crane fly perched on a white-painted surface, side view
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Many people are frightened of crane flies, which resemble huge mosquitoes. But crane flies don’t bite or suck blood. In fact, as adults, most of them don’t have mouths at all!
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.