pp 563-591

Postembryonic Development

  • Cedric GillottAffiliated withUniversity of Saskatchewan

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During their postembryonic growth period insects pass through a series of stages (instars) until they become adult, the time interval (stadium) occupied by each instar being terminated by a molt. Apterygotes continue to grow and molt as adults, periods of growth alternating with periods of reproductive activity. In these insects structural differences between juvenile and adult instars are slight, and their method of development is thus described as ametabolous. Among the Pterygota, which with rare exceptions do not molt in the adult stage, two forms of development can be distinguished. In almost all exopterygotes the later juvenile instars broadly resemble the adult, except for their lack of wings and incompletely formed genitalia. Such insects, in which there is some degree of change in the molt from juvenile to adult, are said to undergo partial (incomplete) metamorphosis, and their development is described as hemimetabolous. Endopterygotes and a few exopterygotes have larvae whose form and habits, by and large, are very different from those of the adults. As a result they undergo striking changes (complete metamorphosis), spread over two molts, in the formation of the adult (holometabolous development). The final juvenile instar has become specialized to facilitate these changes and is known as the pupa (see also Chapter 2, Section 3.3).