Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 17 results
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
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
Common green darner dragonfly perched on a dried flowering stalk, viewed from above
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anax junius
Description
The common green darner is abundant and well-known for its bright green, blue, and purple colors. A large dragonfly up to 3 inches long, it is a migratory species that travels south in autumn.
Media
Photo of a male Banded Pennant dragonfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Species in the suborder Anisoptera
Description
Like damselflies, dragonflies have long bodies, two pairs of long, membranous, finely veined wings, and predaceous aquatic larvae. Dragonflies typically hold their wings stretched outward, horizontally.
Media
Earthworm on the surface of granular soil
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 175 species in North America
Description
Earthworms are familiar to just about everyone who digs in the soil. They play a major role in the nutrient cycling and structure of soils. There are many species. The most familiar ones in Missouri are nonnative.
Media
Photo of eastern dobsonfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Corydalus cornutus
Description
Adult eastern dobsonflies are huge and mothlike, with large wings and a weak, fluttery flight. The fiercely predaceous aquatic larvae, called hellgrammites, are well-known to anglers, who often use them as bait.
Media
image of a Summer Fishfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chauliodes, Neohermes, and Nigronia spp. (in eastern US)
Description
Adult fishflies look a lot like female dobsonflies. Fishflies lack the large, tusklike pincers that male dobsonflies are famous for.
Media
Image of a giant red-headed centipede.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Scolopendra heros
Description
The bright colors of the giant red-headed centipede have a message for you: Handle with great care! It’s of the few centipedes in our state capable of inflicting a painful, venomous bite.
Media
Photo of a giant walkingstick
Species Types
Scientific Name
Megaphasma denticrus
Description
The giant walkingstick is the largest insect in North America, with females up to 7 inches long. The middle and hind legs have spines. Males have a single, large spine on each hind leg.
Media
Jumping worm lying on soil, with a person's fingers for scale
Species Types
Scientific Name
Amynthas and Metaphire spp.
Description
Jumping worms are invasive earthworms that are native to east Asia. They are spreading in North America and cause problems for plants and soils. They thrash violently when disturbed.
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.