Metamorphosis is the process of development of an organism that involves distinct stages with an abrupt change between them.
In arthropods the animal moves between stages by moulting its exoskeleton. The new exoskeleton will have developed beneath the old skin. After moulting the new skin is inflated and then hardens. After a succession of moults an insect reaches the final adult form and no further moults will take place.
Insects show two different forms of metamorphosis:
- Holometabolism - complete metamorphosis
- Hemimetabolism - incomplete metamorphosis
A photograph of a broad-bodied chaser (Libellula depressa) shortly after moulting from the final nymphal stage.
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