Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 224 results
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
image of a Leafhopper on leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 3,000 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The leafhoppers are a large and diverse family of sap-sucking, hopping insects. You can distinguish them from similar groups of hoppers by the hind legs, which have at least one row of small spines on the hind tibiae (“shins”).
Media
Acanaloniid planthopper, green, viewed from side
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 900 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Planthoppers are a large and diverse group of small hopping bugs. They tend to be less abundant than other types of hoppers.
Media
Two-marked treehopper clinging to a stem
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 260 species in North America North of Mexico
Description
Treehoppers can resemble thorns, bark, weird plant bumps, or tiny leaves. If you can recognize one of these as an insect, you're doing well!
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
Photo of a trashline orbweaver, closeup
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cyclosa conica and C. turbinata
Description
Trashline orbweavers decorate their small, circular webs with an unimpressive line of insect husks and other debris. The small orbweaver rests at the hub within this line of garbage, looking like just another bit of trash.
Media
Photo of a featherlegged orbweaver and egg case on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Uloborus glomosus
Description
The featherlegged orbweaver has two very long forelegs that, when held together, look like a tiny twig resting in the circular web. When they’re held apart, the spider looks like a little V.
Media
image of a Mydas Fly
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 80 species in North America
Description
Mydas flies are quite large, and although they resemble wasps, they are harmless. Note that all true flies have only one pair of wings. Also note the clubbed antennae (unusual for flies).
Media
image of a Flower Fly on a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 900 species in North America
Description
Harmless flies and valuable pollinators, flower flies are incredibly convincing mimics of bees, wasps, and yellowjackets. Recognize them as true flies by their single pair of wings, short antennae, and flylike compound eyes.
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.
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.