Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 65 results
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
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
Honeybee worker on flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apis mellifera
Description
The honeybee is the major pollinator of many field crops and almost all tree fruits. It is the world's most beneficial insect. In 1985 it was named the official state insect of Missouri.
Media
Dung beetle rolling a dung ball
Species Types
Scientific Name
Subfamilies Scarabaeinae and Aphodiinae
Description
Horses, cattle, dogs, and deer all drop manna from above to eager dung beetles, which collect, hoard, and guard the precious organic materials left undigested in the pile.
Media
Photo of a meloe blister beetle, female, on ground
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 400 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The name is a warning: blister beetles are famous for their chemical defenses. Beetles in this family can exude an oil that can cause a person’s skin to blister.
Media
Click beetle resting on a brick wall
Species Types
Scientific Name
Approximately 1,000 species in North America
Description
Their streamlined shape is distinctive, but the behavior of click beetles is even more unique: Placed on their backs, these beetles flip suddenly into the air with an audible click.
Media
image of Horse Fly on tree trunk
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tabanus, Chrysops, and related genera
Description
Meet the horse fly: Stealthily, one will land on your back, slice your skin, and lap your blood. By the time it starts to hurt and you swat at it, the painful, itchy welt is rising.
Media
image of greenbottle fly on carcass
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 84 species in North America.
Description
Many blow flies are so shiny and colorful they’re called greenbottles and bluebottles. But pretty as they are, it’s hard not to be repulsed by their larval diets.
Media
image of a boxelder bug
Species Types
Scientific Name
Boisea trivittata
Description
Notoriously numerous, boxelder bugs overwinter in nooks of tree bark and rocks, but they will settle for warm crannies of your house. The box elder tree is the food plant of this harmless insect.
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.