Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 202 results
Media
Starbellied orbweaver female clinging to a grass stalk
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acanthepeira stellata
Description
Mature female starbellied orbweavers spin wheel-shaped webs in prairies and other open, sunny habitats. The abdomen is decorated with a crown of spines and usually has a star pattern on the back.
Media
Tarnished plant bug resting on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 2,000 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Plant bugs, or mirids, are a huge family of true bugs. They are often overlooked — except by gardeners and farmers. Most mirids eat plants, and some are agricultural pests. As a group, they’re an important food source for birds and other insectivores.
Media
American bird grasshopper on round-headed bush clover and big bluestem
Species Types
Scientific Name
Schistocerca americana
Description
The American bird grasshopper is a large grasshopper with ornate markings. It is a good flier that floats upward into trees. Note the pale stripe running down the back.
Media
Obscure bird grasshopper on a grapefruit tree leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Schistocerca spp.
Description
About six species of bird grasshoppers occur in Missouri. Most are attractively marked, large insects that gracefully fly from danger, almost like birds.
Media
A darkling beetle, genus Asiopus, walking on a white-painted wall
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,200 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Darkling beetles are a very large family of beetles. Most are dull black or brown, crawl on the ground, and are scavengers. Many of them resemble what you might call a “base-model” beetle.
Media
Rove beetle, Platydracus sp., viewed from above
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 4,400 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Rove beetles usually have very short wing covers, so several of their hind abdominal segments are exposed. Typically fast movers, they often flip up their abdomen tips when frightened. This is a huge family of beetles.
Media
A reddish centipede crawls over a rock
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hundreds of species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Centipedes are familiar to anyone who has overturned rocks and logs, sifted through leaf litter, or dug in the soil. Learn more about Missouri's members of class Chilopoda.
Media
Photo of a land snail crawling on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Approx. 150 species of land snails and slugs in Missouri
Description
Most people know land snails and slugs when they see these interesting animals. Missouri has about 150 species in 25 families.
Media
Black-legged meadow katydid female
Species Types
Scientific Name
Orchelimum nigripes
Description
The black-legged meadow katydid is a gorgeous, strikingly marked katydid that hides among foliage. They are secretive and quick to hop away or move to the other side of a plant stem.
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.
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.