Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 17 results
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
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
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 a northern walkingstick on autumn dogwood leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Diapheromera femorata, Megaphasma denticrus, and others
Description
Walkingsticks are long, slender insects that are perfectly camouflaged to look like brown or green twigs. Most species are tropical, but some types are found in Missouri.
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
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
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
Photo of walkingsticks during outbreak
Species Types
Scientific Name
Diapheromera femorata
Description
The northern walkingstick is Missouri's most common species of walkingstick. It is perfectly camouflaged for a life in trees and shrubs. They not only look like twigs but also sway their bodies to mimic the motion of branches in a breeze.
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.
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.