Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 48 results
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
Virginia flower fly resting on a concrete surface
Species Types
Scientific Name
Milesia virginiensis
Description
The yellowjacket hover fly, or Virginia flower fly, is a completely harmless mimic of yellowjackets. No more dangerous than a housefly, it buzzes around and seems aggressive.
Media
Several termite workers and a soldier in a gallery in wood
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 50 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
People often confuse termites with ants. Termites have a fairly cylindrical body, only slightly narrowed behind the head. Termites also have a pronotum, a shieldlike plate behind the head.
Media
Acrobat ants on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 700 species in North America
Description
Ants are everywhere! They outnumber us a million to one. These colonial insects are familiar to everyone on Earth. Their lives are endlessly fascinating.
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 Bald-faced Hornet on Goldenrod
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dolichovespula maculata
Description
Bald-faced hornets are fairly large social wasps. They are mostly black, with white or ivory markings on the face, thorax, and toward the tip of the abdomen. They make large, rounded, papery, gray nests, usually in trees and shrubs.
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
image of a Feather-Legged Fly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Trichopoda spp.
Description
Feather-legged flies are a genus in the tachinid fly family. They are beelike and have a feathery fringe of hairs on their hind legs, resembling the pollen basket of honeybees.
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.
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.