Dragonfly perched on a twig
During the summer months, dragonflies are common near streams and pools.

NPS Robb Hannawacker

More Information
  • Though there are many types of invertebrates, most species in the Grand Canyon are insects or arachnids (spiders, mites, ticks, and scorpions). Insects have 3 body segments, 6 legs, 2 antennae, and most species have wings. Arachnids have 2 body segments, 8 legs, and no antennae or wings.
  • Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity


Like most places on Earth, Grand Canyon National Park has far more species of invertebrates than any other animal group. While these animals do not have skeletons, many (including insects and arachnids) have hard exoskeletons, and they are very abundant —1443 species of invertebrates have been identified inside the park, and there are certainly many more species waiting to be identified.

Though many people dismiss insects as "pests" or "disgusting" these creatures play important roles in the ecosystems of the Grand Canyon. Many species such as the Arizona carpenter bee and the rare Kaibab swallowtail butterfly pollinate flowering plants, while many beetles and ants decompose dead material. Predatory invertebrates feed on other invertebrate species, and all invertebrates are prey for birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

From Arizona bark scorpions (Centruroides sculpturatus) and tarantulas to Arizona's state butterfly, the two-tailed swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata), you can always find something moving if you look closely. Study and observe these tiny animals, but do not disturb or harm them.
Small scorpion glowing white
Bark scorpions glow white under black lights.

NPS Eric Hope

Bark Scorpion

One of the most venomous animals in the park, the bark scorpion is a small animal that only grows to 2.5 inches (6.4cm) long.

Brown and white butterfly
Weidemeyer's Admiral is one of the almost 300 butterfly species found in Grand Canyon National Park

NPS Robb Hannawacker


The Grand Canyon is home to 292 documented species of butterflies and moths.(Order Lepidoptera)

Butterflies and moths are found in all parts of Grand Canyon National Park — from the pinyon-juniper forests of the South Rim, to the Colorado River, to the high elevation forests of the North Rim.

These colorful creatures are important pollinators in the park.

Large, black beetles
Darkling beetles are some of the most commonly seen invertebrates in Grand Canyon.

NPS Robb Hannawacker

Darkling Beetles

The Grand Canyon is home to 179 species of beetles, and some of the most commonly seen are the darkling beetles. Members of the family Tenebrionidae, these large, dark beetles are found throughout the Grand Canyon

Large, dark colored spider
Tarantulas are rarely seen predators that live throughout the Park.



The largest spiders in the world, tarantulas are predators that call the Grand Canyon home, feeding on insects, small lizards, and small rodents.

Blue and orange wasp
Tarantula hawks are some of the largest wasps in the world.

NPS Robb Hannawacker

Tarantula Hawk

Growing up to 2 inches (5cm) long, these colorful wasps hunt tarantulas to feed their larvae.


More Information on Select Invertebrate Species

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    Southwestern U.S. Invertebrate Science

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      Last updated: August 20, 2021

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