What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween a grub, a cater­pil­lar and a nymph?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our World - Amy-Jane Beer

ATh­ese are names for the im­ma­ture forms of in­sects whose life his­tory in­volves a metamorphosis. In some, such as house fly mag­gots, bee­tle grubs, crane-fly leather­jack­ets and moth and but­ter­fly cater­pil­lars, the trans­for­ma­tion hap­pens all in one go, dur­ing an in­ter­me­di­ate pu­pal stage. In the case of dragon­flies, mayflies and grasshop­pers, how­ever, metamorphosis is grad­ual, each young­ster pass­ing through sev­eral de­vel­op­men­tal stages (in­stars) sep­a­rated by a moult. These forms are known col­lec­tively as nymphs. If in doubt, it’s usu­ally safe to use the broad­est term, larva – a bit of a catchall that can also be used for the young forms of other an­i­mals that un­dergo some form of de­vel­op­men­tal metamorphosis, in­clud­ing am­phib­ian tad­poles, lam­prey am­mo­coetes, crab zoea, sea urchin plutei, the plan­u­lae of jel­ly­fish, corals and anemones, and lit­er­ally dozens of crus­tacean forms.

A cater­pil­lar feasts on milk pars­ley be­fore pu­pat­ing, to emerge as a spec­tac­u­lar swal­low­tail but­ter­fly.

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