The Open Door Web Site
Part XIX : Colonizing and Populating Habitats :
Some beetle larvae live and develop in the soil
COLONIZING AND POPULATING HABITATS
Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies
The immature stage of an insect is called a larva (pl. larvae). Once an insect hatches from its egg it spends most of the time eating and growing. An insect is covered in an exoskeleton which can expand in size when it is new and still soft. Eventually the exoskeleton hardens and the insect larva cannot grow any bigger until it moults again.
Therefore, insect larvae need to moult periodically. They shed their old small exoskeleton so that they can grow a new one which is bigger. This means that insects grow in stages. Usually insects moult their exoskeletons between 4 and 10 times in their lives. The last time they moult they become an adult.
Moulting is a complicated procedure which can take several hours. This is the period in an insect's life when it is most vulnerable. It cannot escape from predators and its exoskeleton is soft. The insects try to hide away at times like this.
All insects moult their exoskeletons regularly as they grow but insects grow and develop in one of two ways. They are called: complete metamorphosis and incomplete metamorphosis.
The Open Door Web Site is non-profit making. Your donations help towards the cost of maintaining this free service on-line.
Donate to the Open Door Web Site using PayPal