Larva

Larva

Overview
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

s undergo before metamorphosis
Metamorphosis
Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's body structure through cell growth and differentiation...

 into adults. Animals with indirect development
Developmental biology
Developmental biology is the study of the process by which organisms grow and develop. Modern developmental biology studies the genetic control of cell growth, differentiation and "morphogenesis", which is the process that gives rise to tissues, organs and anatomy.- Related fields of study...

 such as insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle
Biological life cycle
A life cycle is a period involving all different generations of a species succeeding each other through means of reproduction, whether through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction...

. Larva is Latin for "ghost".

The larva's appearance is generally very different from the adult form (e.g. caterpillar
Caterpillar
Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...

s and butterflies
Butterfly
A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured...

), and a larva often has unique structures and larval organs that do not occur in the adult form.
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Encyclopedia
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

s undergo before metamorphosis
Metamorphosis
Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's body structure through cell growth and differentiation...

 into adults. Animals with indirect development
Developmental biology
Developmental biology is the study of the process by which organisms grow and develop. Modern developmental biology studies the genetic control of cell growth, differentiation and "morphogenesis", which is the process that gives rise to tissues, organs and anatomy.- Related fields of study...

 such as insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle
Biological life cycle
A life cycle is a period involving all different generations of a species succeeding each other through means of reproduction, whether through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction...

. Larva is Latin for "ghost".

The larva's appearance is generally very different from the adult form (e.g. caterpillar
Caterpillar
Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...

s and butterflies
Butterfly
A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured...

), and a larva often has unique structures and larval organs that do not occur in the adult form. A larva's diet can be considerably different from that of the adult form.

Larvae are frequently adapted to environments separate from adults. For example, some larvae such as tadpoles
Tadpoles
Tadpoles are a psychedelic rock band formed in 1990 in New York City by Todd Parker , Michael Kite Audino and Josh Bracken In 1992, Nick Kramer , David Max and Andrew Jackson of the fledgling Manhattan group, Hit, joined the Tadpoles after putting Hit on hiatus.In 1993 Kite and Jackson left the...

 live exclusively in aquatic environments, but as adults can live outside water as frogs. By living in distinct environments, larvae may be given shelter from predators and reduce competition for resources with the adult population.

Animals in the larval stage will consume food to fuel their transition into the adult form. Some species such as barnacles are immobile as adults, and use their mobile larvae form to distribute themselves.

The larvae of some species can become pubescent
Puberty
Puberty is the process of physical changes by which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of reproduction, as initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads; the ovaries in a girl, the testes in a boy...

 and not further develop into the adult form (for example, in some newt
Newt
A newt is an aquatic amphibian of the family Salamandridae, although not all aquatic salamanders are considered newts. Newts are classified in the subfamily Pleurodelinae of the family Salamandridae, and are found in North America, Europe and Asia...

s). This is a type of neoteny
Neoteny
Neoteny , also called juvenilization , is one of the two ways by which paedomorphism can arise. Paedomorphism is the retention by adults of traits previously seen only in juveniles, and is a subject studied in the field of developmental biology. In neoteny, the physiological development of an...

.
It is a misunderstanding that the larval form always reflects the group's evolutionary history
Recapitulation theory
The theory of recapitulation, also called the biogenetic law or embryological parallelism—and often expressed as "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"—is a disproven hypothesis that in developing from embryo to adult, animals go through stages resembling or representing successive stages...

. It could be the case, but often the larval stage has evolved secondarily, as in insects. In these cases the larval form might differ more from the group's common origin than the adult form.

Names of various kinds of larvae:
Animal Name of larva
Hydrozoa
Hydrozoa
Hydrozoa are a taxonomic class of very small, predatory animals which can be solitary or colonial and which mostly live in saltwater. A few genera within this class live in freshwater...

 
planula
Planula
A planula is the free-swimming, flattened, ciliated, bilaterally symmetric larval form of various cnidarian species. The planula forms from the fertilized egg of a medusa, as the case in scyphozoans and some hydrozoans, or from a polyp, as in the case of anthozoans...

Many crustacean
Crustacean
Crustaceans form a very large group of arthropods, usually treated as a subphylum, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. The 50,000 described species range in size from Stygotantulus stocki at , to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span...

s
nauplius
Decapoda
Decapoda
The decapods or Decapoda are an order of crustaceans within the class Malacostraca, including many familiar groups, such as crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimp. Most decapods are scavengers. It is estimated that the order contains nearly 15,000 species in around 2,700 genera, with...

 
zoea
Mayflies, Grasshopper
Grasshopper
The grasshopper is an insect of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids, it is sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper...

s, True Bugs
Hemiptera
Hemiptera is an order of insects most often known as the true bugs , comprising around 50,000–80,000 species of cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, shield bugs, and others...

, etc.
nymph
Nymph (biology)
In biology, a nymph is the immature form of some invertebrates, particularly insects, which undergoes gradual metamorphosis before reaching its adult stage. Unlike a typical larva, a nymph's overall form already resembles that of the adult. In addition, while a nymph moults it never enters a...

Dragonflies, Damselflies  naiad, nymph
Nymph (biology)
In biology, a nymph is the immature form of some invertebrates, particularly insects, which undergoes gradual metamorphosis before reaching its adult stage. Unlike a typical larva, a nymph's overall form already resembles that of the adult. In addition, while a nymph moults it never enters a...

Butterflies and moths
Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

 
caterpillar
Caterpillar
Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...

Beetle
Beetle
Coleoptera is an order of insects commonly called beetles. The word "coleoptera" is from the Greek , koleos, "sheath"; and , pteron, "wing", thus "sheathed wing". Coleoptera contains more species than any other order, constituting almost 25% of all known life-forms...

s, Bee
Bee
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila...

s, Wasp
Wasp
The term wasp is typically defined as any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. Almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that preys upon it or parasitizes it, making wasps critically important in natural control of their...

s
grub
Flies
Fly
True flies are insects of the order Diptera . They possess a pair of wings on the mesothorax and a pair of halteres, derived from the hind wings, on the metathorax...

 
maggot
Maggot
In everyday speech the word maggot means the larva of a fly ; it is applied in particular to the larvae of Brachyceran flies, such as houseflies, cheese flies, and blowflies, rather than larvae of the Nematocera, such as mosquitoes and Crane flies...

Mosquito
Mosquito
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae . The word Mosquito is from the Spanish and Portuguese for little fly...

s
wriggler
Certain molluscs
Mollusca
The Mollusca , common name molluscs or mollusksSpelled mollusks in the USA, see reasons given in Rosenberg's ; for the spelling mollusc see the reasons given by , is a large phylum of invertebrate animals. There are around 85,000 recognized extant species of molluscs. Mollusca is the largest...

, annelid
Annelid
The annelids , formally called Annelida , are a large phylum of segmented worms, with over 17,000 modern species including ragworms, earthworms and leeches...

s
trochophore
Trochophore
A trochophore is a type of free-swimming planktonic marine larva with several bands of cilia.By moving their cilia rapidly, a water eddy is created. In this way they control the direction of their movement...

Certain molluscs
Mollusca
The Mollusca , common name molluscs or mollusksSpelled mollusks in the USA, see reasons given in Rosenberg's ; for the spelling mollusc see the reasons given by , is a large phylum of invertebrate animals. There are around 85,000 recognized extant species of molluscs. Mollusca is the largest...

 
veliger
Veliger
A veliger is the planktonic larva of many kinds of marine and freshwater gastropod molluscs, as well as most bivalve mollusks.- Description :...

Freshwater mussel
Mussel
The common name mussel is used for members of several families of clams or bivalvia mollusca, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.The...

s
glochidium
Glochidium
The glochidium is a special microscopic larval stage of larger freshwater mussels, aquatic bivalve mollusks in the families Unionidae and Margaritiferidae, the river mussels and European freshwater pearl mussels....

Lamprey
Lamprey
Lampreys are a family of jawless fish, whose adults are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. Translated from an admixture of Latin and Greek, lamprey means stone lickers...

 
ammocoete
Fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 (generally)
larva
Eel
Eel
Eels are an order of fish, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera and approximately 800 species. Most eels are predators...

s
leptocephalus
Leptocephalus
A leptocephalus is the flat and transparent larva of the eel, marine eels, and other members of the Superorder Elopomorpha. Fishes with a leptocephalus larva stage include the most familiar eels such as the conger, moray eel, and garden eel, and the freshwater eels of the family Anguillidae, plus...

Amphibian
Amphibian
Amphibians , are a class of vertebrate animals including animals such as toads, frogs, caecilians, and salamanders. They are characterized as non-amniote ectothermic tetrapods...

s
tadpole, polliwog
Tadpole
A tadpole or polliwog is the wholly aquatic larval stage in the life cycle of an amphibian, particularly that of a frog or toad.- Appellation :...

Sea star
Sea star
Starfish or sea stars are echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea. The names "starfish" and "sea star" essentially refer to members of the class Asteroidea...

s
Bipinnaria
Bipinnaria
A bipinnaria is the first stage in the larval development of most starfish, and is usually followed by a brachiolaria stage. Movement and feeding is accomplished by the bands of cilia. Starfish that brood their young generally lack a bipinnaria stage, with the eggs developing directly into...


See also

  • Chrysalis
  • Crustacean larvae
    Crustacean larvae
    Crustaceans may pass through a number of larval and immature stages between hatching from their eggs and reaching their adult form. Each of the stages is separated by a moult, in which the hard exoskeleton is shed to allow the animal to grow...

  • Paralarva
    Paralarva
    Paralarvae is the term used to describe the young planktonic stages of cephalopods, between hatchling and subadult. It is used to differentiate it from the term 'larva' used in animals which undergo true metamorphosis. They have been observed only on members of the orders Octopoda and Teuthida.The...

  • Ichthyoplankton
    Ichthyoplankton
    Ichthyoplankton are the eggs and larvae of fish. They are usually found in the sunlit zone of the water column, less than 200 metres deep, which is sometimes called the epipelagic or photic zone...

  • Spawn (biology)
    Spawn (biology)
    Spawn refers to the eggs and sperm released or deposited, usually into water, by aquatic animals. As a verb, spawn refers to the process of releasing the eggs and sperm, also called spawning...

  • Caterpillar
    Caterpillar
    Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...