Animal World

Arthropods: Crustaceans, Insects, and Spiders

What are the stages of insect metamorphosis?

There are two types of metamorphoses (marked structural changes in the growth processes): complete and incomplete. In complete metamorphosis, the insect (such as the ant, moth, butterfly, termite, wasp, or beetle) goes through all the distinct stages of growth to reach adulthood. In incomplete metamorphosis, the insect (such as the grasshopper, cricket, or louse) does not go through all the stages of complete metamorphoses.

Egg—One egg is laid at a time or many (as much as 10,000).

Larva—What hatches from the eggs is called a larva. A larva can look like a worm.

Pupa—After reaching its full growth, the larva hibernates, developing a shell or pupal case for protection. A few insects (e.g., the moth) spin a hard covering called a “cocoon.” The resting insect is called a pupa (except the butterfly, which is called a chrysalis), and remains in the hibernation state for several weeks or months.

Adult—During hibernation, the insect develops its adult body parts. When it has matured physically, the fully grown insect emerges from its case or cocoon.

Egg—One egg or many eggs are laid.

Early stage nymph—Hatched insect resembles an adult, but smaller in size. However, those insects that would normally have wings have not yet developed them.

Late-stage nymph—At this time, the skin begins to molt (shed), and the wings begin to bud.

Adult—The insect is now fully grown.


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