TOMS, R.B. (2001)

The mopane worm and the wonder of metamorphosis.

Easy Science 2001(4): 6-8.


Mopane worms and silkworms have a remarkable life cycle. Mopane worms and other caterpillars start their lives as leaf-eating caterpillars or larvae. Later, the fully grown larva spins itself into a cocoon, inside which it goes into a state of rest while it changes into a chrysalis or pupa and eventually emerges as a moth. This change is an example of complete metamorphoses, or Holometabolous development, and happens in the life cycle of all butterflies, moths, bees, ants, beetles and their close relatives. Complete metamorphosis can be compared and contrasted with incomplete metamorphosis, or hemimetabolous development, which occurs in insects like termites, grasshoppers, crickets and the true bugs. In incomplete metamorphosis the juveniles look like small adults, but are different in that they are sexually immature and lack wings.


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