Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera


  • Judith H. Willis
  • John S. Willis
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_4574

Insects are the only invertebrates that fly. The development of a winged form is the culmination of metamorphosis that converts a larva capable only of moving by squirming, crawling or swimming into a flying machine.

Issues of interest in insect metamorphosis include its evolutionary origin, the source of adult structures, hormonal control, and the identity of genes that regulate metamorphosis and code for proteins that form the structures of the different metamorphic stages.


Among the orders of insects, patterns of cellular participation in metamorphosis vary from the simplest case, adults only slightly different from larvae, their structures having arisen from the same cells, to the most advanced in which differentiated larval cells in effect commit suicide and are replaced by new cells arising from undifferentiated precursors. By examining insects in different orders we can get an idea of how metamorphosis may have evolved from simple to complex.

A few “primitive” insects...
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith H. Willis
    • 1
  • John S. Willis
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA