Egg: Similar to incomplete metamorphosis, the life cycle begins with an egg.

Larva: The larva, or caterpillar, that hatches from the egg is the SECOND stage of the life cycle of the insect. The plural for larva is called LARVAE. A caterpillar’s main activity is eating. They almost never stop eating, so they can grow quickly.

The first meal for most caterpillars is the eggshell, and then they eat the leaf they were born onto.

The development of a caterpillar is called INSTAR. At this stage, the outer layer of the caterpillar, called the CUTICLE, is removed. This process of cuticle removal is also called APOLYSIS or MOLTING. In simple words, molting means shedding outgrown skin.

Before going to the third stage of life, butterflies increase their body mass by over 100 times their birth size. The caterpillar undergoes about 4 to 6 moltings. It means they shed their skin 4–5 times.

The Pupa or Chrysalis: Once larvae have completed their growth phase, they progress into the pupal stage, also known as the Chrysalis.

During this stage, the larva goes through an incredible change within a protective structure called a cocoon (in moths and butterflies) or a pupa case (in beetles). Inside the cocoon or pupa case, the larva’s body undergoes significant changes, including the development of adult structures such as wings, legs, and reproductive organs.

Adult: After the metamorphic transformation is complete, the adult insect emerges from the pupa. The adult typically has a distinct appearance and different behaviors from the larval stage. At this stage of the life cycle, the insect is capable of reproducing and continuing the life cycle.

Examples of insects that undergo complete metamorphosis include butterflies, moths, beetles, bees, flies, and ants.


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