Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 52 results
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
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
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
American dog tick crawling on a person's skin
Species Types
Scientific Name
Three common Missouri species
Description
Ticks drink the blood of humans and other mammals. Because they can carry serious, sometimes deadly diseases, it's important to learn about ticks and how to protect yourself from their bites.
Media
mosquito resting on a white fabric
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 50 species of mosquitoes in Missouri
Description
Mosquitoes are small flies that look a lot like their cousins in the fly family, the crane flies and midges. Female mosquitoes, however, drink blood from vertebrate animals.
Media
image of Sand Wasp perched on sand
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 1,200 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Many species and genera of sand wasps occur in Missouri. They nest in the ground during summer. They are found in many habitats but most often in open, sandy areas along rivers.
Media
image of a Four-Spotted Owlfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
8 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
An owlfly looks like a dragonfly with a butterfly’s head. Dragonfly shaped and sized, they have long, clubbed antennae and large, bulging eyes. Look for them in summertime dusks and evenings.
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.