Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 68 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
Three-banded grasshopper resting on a grass stalk with a blue background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hadrotettix trifasciatus
Description
The three-banded grasshopper is one of our most attractively marked grasshoppers, with three sharply marked dark bands.
Media
Photo of a green-eyed robber fly depositing eggs into Missouri ironweed flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Promachus vertebratus
Description
The green robber fly is one of several species of robber flies called giant robber flies or bee killers. They are indeed large, with distinctive yellow and dark stripes on the abdomen and iridescent green eyes.
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
Green June beetle on goldenrod
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cotinis nitida
Description
The green June beetle is a common type of scarab beetle in Missouri. These large, metallic green beetles buzz loudly when they fly. They are attracted to ripe and rotting fruit and compost piles.
Media
Image of a great golden digger wasp.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sphex ichneumoneus
Description
A large solitary wasp, the great golden digger wasp occurs throughout Missouri. The abdomen is orange in front and black at the end. The head and thorax have golden hairs. Like all solitary wasps, this species is not aggressive.
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 red velvet ant
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Velvet ants are not true ants. True ants are social insects, while velvet ants are a group of solitary wasps. Female velvet ants are wingless throughout their lives; males are winged.
Media
Photo of an American burying beetle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nicrophorus americanus
Description
The American burying beetle is endangered statewide and threatened nationally. Restoration efforts are under way. This brightly patterned beetle specializes in cleaning carrion from the landscape, burying dead mice, birds, and other creatures.
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.
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.