What Are The Stages Of Insect Metamorphosis?

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

Complete Metamorphosis

Egg—One egg is laid at a time or many (as many as ten thousand).

Larva—What hatches from an egg is called a "larva." A larva can look like a worm.

Pupa—After reaching its full growth, the larva hibernates, developing a shell or a "pupal case" for protection. A few insects (e.g., the moth) spin a hard covering called a "cocoon." The resting in-sect is called a pupa (except the butterfly 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.

Incomplete Metamorphosis

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.

Sources: Raven, Peter H., and George B. Johnson. Biology, 4th ed., pp. 896-97; Rovin, Jeff. Laws Order, pp. 3-4.

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