Humans grow gradually. You began life as a baby and grow a little at a time until youre an adult. While youre growing, the basic plan of your body doesnt change. You have the same body your whole life.
Insects grow in stages. The cycle of stages is called metamorphosis. For many insects, the stages are so different from one another that you might not recognize them as the same animal.
|Every insect begins life as an egg. The egg is the embryo stage.||The larva hatches from the egg. The larva is the eating and growing stage. Some insects dont eat at all after this stage. Larvae dont look like adults. Caterpillars, grubs and maggots are larvae that grow up to be butterflies, beetles and flies as adults. A larvas exoskeleton cant stretch or grow, so the larva sheds its skin, or molts, several times as it grows.||When a larva has finished growing, it forms a pupa (plural: pupae). The pupa is the insects transforming stage. Outside, the pupa looks as if its resting. But inside, the entire body is rearranging. New organs, muscles and body parts develop.||When it has finished changing, the pupa molts one last time, emerging as an adult. The adult is the reproductive stage. The adult has all the identifiable insect features: three body sections, six legs, two antennae and usually wings.|
|Early, basic development happens in the egg.||The nymph is the eating and growing stage. Nymphs often look like smaller versions of adults, without wings. The nymphs exoskeleton cant grow or stretch, so the nymph needs to shed its skin, or molt, in order to grow. The periods between molts are called instars. Each instar looks a little more like the adult form. Wing buds form and grow on the nymphs back.||The adult is the reproductive stage. The nymph emerges from its final molt as an adult. In species that have wings, the wings dont fully appear until this stage. Adults mate, females lay eggs, and the cycle begins again.|