Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 40 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
image of a Four-Spotted Owlfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
8 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
An owlfly looks like a dragonfly with a butterfly’s head. Dragonfly shaped and sized, they have long, clubbed antennae and large, bulging eyes. Look for them in summertime dusks and evenings.
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
Narceus Millipede crawling across gravel
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 900 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Millipedes, which have two pairs of legs per body segment, are harmless detritus-eaters, move slowly, and curl up defensively when harassed.
Media
Photo of mating pair of musk mares, on a gravel surface, viewed from above.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anisomorpha ferruginea
Description
Be careful when approaching northern two-striped walkingsticks: They can squirt an acrid fluid at you. Musk mare, devil’s riding horse, and prairie alligator are all names for this remarkable stick insect.
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
periodical cicada shown from the side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Magicicada spp.
Description
Periodical cicadas live as nymphs for 13 or 17 years underground, and then emerge simultaneously to metamorphose into their adult form. Tremendous numbers of periodical cicadas, calling all at once, are a memorable event.
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 Texas brown tarantula
Species Types
Scientific Name
Aphonopelma hentzi
Description
The Texas brown tarantula is our state's largest spider. The hairy body and legs are uniformly dark chocolate brown, with reddish hairs on the carapace. Look for it on dry, rocky glades in the southern half of the state.
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.
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.