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2013

Life on Distant Hill Blog ... Insect Metamorphosis

Change is Good

A female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) feeding on the flower of a Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica).  www.distanthill.org

 

All insects change in form as they grow; this process is called Metamorphosis. There are two kinds of insect metamorphosis, simple (or incomplete) and complex (or complete) metamorphosis.

 

 

  • Simple metamorphosis:  Grasshoppers, along with dragonflies and many other insects, go through simple metamorphosis. This is a 3 stage process: Egg to Nymph to Adult. The young nymphs usually look much like small wingless adults. The wings develop externally. 

 

Here is a partial list of insects that use simple metamorphosis.


A Band-winged grasshopper in the Nymph stage of development. Note the short stubby wings.

A Band-winged grasshopper in the Nymph stage of development. Note the short stubby wings. 

A Band-winged grasshopper, in the Adult stage of its development. Note the long wings.

A Band-winged grasshopper, in the Adult stage of its development. Note the long wings. 


  • Complex metamorphosis: Butterflies and moths undergo complex metamorphosis, in which there are 4 distinct stages: Egg to Larva to Pupa to Adult. With Complex metamorphosis, the immature insects and the adults have different forms, often live in different habitats, and may have very different behavior. 
A Monarch caterpillar, the Larva stage of complex metamorphosis.

A Monarch caterpillar, the Larva stage of complex metamorphosis.

A Monarch chrysalis, the Pupa stage of complex metamorphosis.

A Monarch chrysalis, the Pupa stage of complex metamorphosis.

A Monarch Butterfly, the Adult stage of complex metamorphosis.

A Monarch Butterfly, the Adult stage of complex metamorphosis.