Larvae

Larvae

For other uses, see Larva (disambiguation).

A larva (plural larvae /ˈlɑrv/) is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle.

The larva's appearance is generally very different from the adult form (e.g. caterpillars and butterflies). A larva often has unique structures and organs that do not occur in the adult form, while their diet might be considerably different.

Larvae are frequently adapted to environments separate from adults. For example, some larvae such as tadpoles live exclusively in aquatic environments, but can live outside water as adult frogs. By living in a distinct environment, 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 larval form to distribute themselves.

The larvae of some species (for example, some newts) can become pubescent and not further develop into the adult form. This is a type of neoteny.


It is a misunderstanding that the larval form always reflects the group's evolutionary history. This could be the case, but often the larval stage has evolved secondarily, as in insects. In these cases the larval form may differ more than the adult form from the group's common origin.

Selected types of larvae

Animal Name of larva
Cnidarians planula, actinula
Crustacea: Decapoda zoea
Insecta: Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) caterpillar
Insecta: Beetles grub
Insecta: Flies, Bees, Wasps maggot
Insecta: Mosquitos wriggler
Certain molluscs, annelids, nemerteans and sipunculids trochophore
Certain molluscs veliger
Mollusca: freshwater Bivalvia (mussels) glochidium
Petromyzontiformes (lamprey) ammocoete
Fish (generally) larva
Fish: Anguilliformes (eels) leptocephalus
Amphibians tadpole, polliwog
Phoronids actinotroch
Porifera (sponges) coeloblastula larvae (= blastula larvae), parenchymula (= parenchymella), amphiblastula
Cycliophora pandora, chordoid larva
Nemertea pilidium, Iwata larva, Desor larva
Hemichordata tornaria
Acanthocephala acanthor
Ctenophora cydippid larvae
Deuterostomes dipleurula (hypothetical larva)
Arthropoda: Xiphosura euproöps larva ("trilobite larva")
Platyhelminthes Götte’s larva, Müller's larva
Locifera Higgins larva
Dicyemida infusoriform larva
Brachiopoda lobate larva
Priapula loricate larva
Crustaceans nauplius, metanauplius, protozoea, antizoea, pseudozoea, zoea, postlarva, cypris, primary larva, mysis
Arthropoda: †Trilobita protaspis, meraspis, holaspis
Arthropoda: Pycnogonida protonymphon
Urochordata tadpole
Echinodermata bipinnaria, vitellaria, brachiollaria, pluteus, ophiopluteus, echinopluteus, auricularia
Nematomorpha nematomorphan larva
Sipuncula pelagosphera larva
Annelida nectochaeta, polytroch
Ectoprocta cyphonautes, vesiculariform larvae
Heterocyemida Wagener's larva
Nematoda Dauer larva

See also

External links

  • Arenas-Mena, C. (2010) Indirect development, transdifferentiation and the macroregulatory evolution of metazoans. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Feb 27, 2010 Vol.365 no.1540 653-669

Bibliography

  • Brusca, R. C., & Brusca, G. J. (2003). Invertebrates (2nd ed.). Sunderland, Mass. : Sinauer Associates.