Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 69 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
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
Elongate-bodied springtail on a brown leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 8,000 species globally
Description
Springtails, like insects, have six legs, but these tiny rounded, oval, or elongated creatures that hop quickly into the air are not insects. They have a separate lineage and many structural differences.
Media
image of Paper Wasp on flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Polistes spp.
Description
Paper wasps are the most familiar of Missouri's social wasps. A late summer nest bristling with dozens of wasps can be an impressive sight. If you have a garden, however, these wasps are your friends.
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
Large crane fly perched on a white-painted surface, side view
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Many people are frightened of crane flies, which resemble huge mosquitoes. But crane flies don’t bite or suck blood. In fact, as adults, most of them don’t have mouths at all!
Media
image of a Midge
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 1,100 species in North America
Description
Midges are dainty flies that resemble mosquitoes. They often dance together in the air in huge swarms. Unlike their problematic cousins, they are harmless and do not bite.
Media
Tan stink bug on dead leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
In North America, more than 200 species in 64 genera
Description
Stink bugs are shield-shaped insects that can smell really bad. This is a large family of true bugs known for producing a foul odor when harassed.
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.