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Insects & Other Species


painting of monarch butterfly and large bee near flowers
Art by Jean Gawalt

Invertebrates are animals without a spinal column (backbone). They include:

  • marine species such as sponges, jellyfish, sea urchins and starfish;
  • freshwater aquatic species such as snails and mussels;
  • terrestrial species like insects, spiders and worms.

On these pages you will find information about a variety of NYSDEC research and management programs concerning invertebrate species.

Endangered and Threatened Invertebrates

The Endangered Species Unit of NYSDEC is responsible for perpetuating and restoring native animal life within the State. Several invertebrate species are listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern in New York. Fact sheets have been prepared for several of these listed species. They include a description of the species, its life history, statewide distribution and habitat, its current status, and management and research needs.


Macroinvertebrates are larger-than-microscopic invertebrate animals. Because of their abundance and their sensitivity to environmental impacts, they are widely used in biomonitoring programs for assessing water quality. The Stream Biomonitoring Unit of NYSDEC has used aquatic macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects, worms, clams, snails and crustaceans) to monitor the water quality of the State's rivers and streams.

Pullouts from the Conservationist:

Backyard Bugs Brochure (PDF, 247 KB)
Backyard Bugs Poster (PDF, 267 KB)
Butterflies and Moths in New York State Brochure (PDF, 640 KB)
Common Spiders (PDF, 536 KB)

More about Insects & Other Species:

  • Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) - Pool Survey - This page discusses the citizen pool survey program to monitor Asian Longhorned Beetle populations.
  • Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) - The larvae of the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) feed on the heartwood of mature trees, inhibiting the tree's vascular system and ultimately killing it.
  • Boxelder Bug - The boxelder bug (Boisea trivittata) is an American species of true bug, also commonly known as the box elder bug or maple bug.
  • Cicada - Annual cicadas appear every summer while periodical cicadas appear every 13 or 17 years.
  • Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) - The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a non-native insect that attacks all native varieties of ash trees.
  • Friendly Flies - Friendly flies are natural parasites of the forest tent caterpillar and are not harmful to humans.
  • Spongy Moth - Spongy moth is a non-native insect that, as a caterpillar, eats many different kinds of tree leaves.
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid - The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is an invasive insect species from Asia that preys on hemlock trees by depriving the tree of vital nutrients.
  • Southern Pine Beetle - The SPB is a bark beetle native to the southern United States which has steadily expanded its range north.
  • Spotted Lanternfly - An invasive insect from Asia that feeds on 70 different plant species.
  • Tent Caterpillars - A description of Forest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) and Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum, what they do and how to identify them.
  • Whitespotted Pine Sawyer - the whitespotted pine sawyer is a native longhorned beetle whose larvae feed on diseased and damaged conifers.
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