Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 154 results
Media
Image of a differential grasshopper.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Melanoplus differentialis
Description
The differential grasshopper is familiar to most Missourians. Originally it lived only in wet meadows and creek bottomlands, but with the spread of farms, it has become a pest of many food crops.
Media
image of Firefly crawling on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Approx. 175 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Fireflies are amazing beetles that use “cold light” (bioluminescence) to attract mates. They are commonly seen as they fly and glow in summer evenings.
Media
Photo of a great black wasp on a bindweed flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sphex pensylvanicus
Description
A strikingly large black wasp with smoky black wings that shine with blue iridescence, the great black wasp is often seen busily eating nectar and pollen from flowers in summertime.
Media
image of Soldier Beetle on Goldenrod
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Soldier beetles are most often seen on flowers. Many species in this family are pollinators. Yellow, orange, and red are their most common colors, besides black and brown.
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
Photo of a Xysticus crab spider, tan individual
Species Types
Scientific Name
Xysticus spp.
Description
Missouri has several species of ground crab spiders in the genus Xysticus. They are usually dull gray or brown with brown, white, or yellow markings. They typically live under bark or on the ground in leaf litter.
Media
Photo of a spotted orbweaver or barn spider, Neoscona crucifera, with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Neoscona spp.
Description
Missouri's Neoscona spiders, called spotted orbweavers, can be hard to identify to species. Most have camouflage patterns, and they all make the characteristic, delicate, wheel-shaped webs to catch prey.
Media
Photo of a tan jumping spider
Species Types
Scientific Name
Platycriptus undatus
Description
The tan jumping spider usually lives on tree trunks. Its gray, tan, and brown coloration camouflages it against tree bark. There is usually an undulating pattern on the abdomen.
Media
Photo of an orchard orbweaver with a black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Leucauge venusta
Description
The orchard orbweaver is a small, colorful, greenish, delicate spider that makes circular webs in low bushes and damp woodlands. It typically hangs in the middle of its web, its back to the ground.
Media
Photo of a swift crab spider, female, from above.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Mecaphesa spp. and Misumessus spp.
Description
Foliage flower spiders are two genera of crab spiders. They are generally smaller than other crab spiders, and their carapaces, abdomens, and legs are spiny.
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.