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Nymphs and adults of Lygaeus turcicus, Hemiptera Milkweedbugs.nymphadult9.0.jpg
Nymphs and adults of Lygaeus turcicus , Hemiptera

Hemimetabolism or hemimetaboly, also called incomplete metamorphosis and paurometabolism, [1] is the mode of development of certain insects that includes three distinct stages: the egg, nymph, and the adult stage, or imago. These groups go through gradual changes; there is no pupal stage. The nymph often has a thin exoskeleton and resembles the adult stage but lacks wings and functional reproductive organs. [2] The hemimetabolous insects differ from ametabolous taxa in that the one and only adult instar undergoes no further moulting. [3]



The orders that contain hemimetabolous insects are:

Terminology of aquatic entomology

In aquatic entomology, different terminology is used when categorizing insects with incomplete metamorphosis. Paurometabolism refers to insects whose nymphs occupy the same environment as the adults, as in the family Gerridae of Hemiptera. The hemimetabolous insects are those whose nymphs, called naiads, occupy aquatic habitats while the adults are terrestrial. This includes all members of the orders Plecoptera, Ephemeroptera, and Odonata. Aquatic entomologists use this categorization because it specifies whether the adult will occupy an aquatic or semi aquatic habitat, or will be terrestrial. This classification system is similar to previously used nomenclature in terrestrial entomology.[ citation needed ]

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Metamorphosis Profound change in body structure during the postembryonic development of an organism

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. Some insects, fish, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, cnidarians, echinoderms, and tunicates undergo metamorphosis, which is often accompanied by a change of nutrition source or behavior. Animals can be divided into species that undergo complete metamorphosis ("holometaboly"), incomplete metamorphosis ("hemimetaboly"), or no metamorphosis ("ametaboly").

Dragonfly Predatory winged insects

A dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonata, infraorder Anisoptera. Adult dragonflies are characterized by large, multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, sometimes with coloured patches, and an elongated body. Dragonflies can be mistaken for the related group, damselflies (Zygoptera), which are similar in structure, though usually lighter in build; however, the wings of most dragonflies are held flat and away from the body, while damselflies hold their wings folded at rest, along or above the abdomen. Dragonflies are agile fliers, while damselflies have a weaker, fluttery flight. Many dragonflies have brilliant iridescent or metallic colours produced by structural colouration, making them conspicuous in flight. An adult dragonfly's compound eyes have nearly 24,000 ommatidia each.

Damselfly Suborder of insects

Damselflies are insects of the suborder Zygoptera in the order Odonata. They are similar to dragonflies, which constitute the other odonatan suborder, Anisoptera, but are smaller and have slimmer bodies. Most species fold the wings along the body when at rest, unlike dragonflies which hold the wings flat and away from the body. An ancient group, damselflies have existed since at least the Lower Permian, and are found on every continent except Antarctica.

Hemiptera Order of insects often called bugs

Hemiptera or true bugs are an order of insects comprising over 80,000 species within groups such as the cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, bed bugs and shield bugs. They range in size from 1 mm (0.04 in) to around 15 cm (6 in), and share a common arrangement of sucking mouthparts. The name "true bugs" is often limited to the suborder Heteroptera. Many insects commonly known as "bugs", especially in American English, belong to other orders; for example, the lovebug is a fly and the May bug and ladybug are beetles.

Nymph (biology) Immature form of some invertebrates

In biology, a nymph is the immature form of some invertebrates, particularly insects, which undergoes gradual metamorphosis (hemimetabolism) before reaching its adult stage. Unlike a typical larva, a nymph's overall form already resembles that of the adult, except for a lack of wings. In addition, while a nymph moults, it never enters a pupal stage. Instead, the final moult results in an adult insect. Nymphs undergo multiple stages of development called instars.

Plecoptera Order of stoneflies

The Plecoptera are an order of insects, commonly known as stoneflies. Some 3,500 species are described worldwide, with new species still being discovered. Stoneflies are found worldwide, except Antarctica. Stoneflies are believed to be one of the most primitive groups of Neoptera, with close relatives identified from the Carboniferous and Lower Permian geological periods, while true stoneflies are known from fossils only a bit younger. Their modern diversity, however, apparently is of Mesozoic origin.

Mayfly Aquatic insects of the order Ephemeroptera

Mayflies are aquatic insects belonging to the order Ephemeroptera. This order is part of an ancient group of insects termed the Palaeoptera, which also contains dragonflies and damselflies. Over 3,000 species of mayfly are known worldwide, grouped into over 400 genera in 42 families.

Aquatic insect Insect that lives in water

Aquatic insects or water insects live some portion of their life cycle in the water. They feed in the same ways as other insects. Some diving insects, such as predatory diving beetles, can hunt for food underwater where land-living insects cannot compete.

Pterygota Subclass of insects

The Pterygota are a subclass of insects that includes the winged insects. It also includes insect orders that are secondarily wingless.

Exopterygota Superorder of insects

The Exopterygota, also known as Hemipterodea, are a superorder of insects of the subclass Pterygota in the infraclass Neoptera, in which the young resemble adults but have externally developing wings. They undergo a modest change between immature and adult, without going through a pupal stage. The nymphs develop gradually into adults through a process of moulting.

The most recent understanding of the evolution of insects is based on studies of the following branches of science: molecular biology, insect morphology, paleontology, insect taxonomy, evolution, embryology, bioinformatics and scientific computing. It is estimated that the class of insects originated on Earth about 480 million years ago, in the Ordovician, at about the same time terrestrial plants appeared. Insects may have evolved from a group of crustaceans. The first insects were landbound, but about 400 million years ago in the Devonian period one lineage of insects evolved flight, the first animals to do so. The oldest insect fossil has been proposed to be Rhyniognatha hirsti, estimated to be 400 million years old, but the insect identity of the fossil has been contested. Global climate conditions changed several times during the history of Earth, and along with it the diversity of insects. The Pterygotes underwent a major radiation in the Carboniferous while the Endopterygota underwent another major radiation in the Permian.

Mandible (insect mouthpart)

Insect mandibles are a pair of appendages near the insect’s mouth, and the most anterior of the three pairs of oral appendages. Their function is typically to grasp, crush, or cut the insect’s food, or to defend against predators or rivals. Insect mandibles, which appear to be evolutionarily derived from legs, move in the horizontal plane unlike those of vertebrates, which appear to be derived from gill arches and move vertically.

Insect physiology includes the physiology and biochemistry of insect organ systems.

Chloroperlidae Family of stoneflies

Chloroperlidae are a family of stoneflies, commonly known as green stoneflies, with more than 200 species and 22 genera. They appear green to yellow in colour, and are popularly used among fisherman as bait for trout fishing. Green stoneflies live in the benthic zone of the cold streams and rivers of five continents and four zoogeographical regions, emerging from the water to live in the riparian zone as adults. They are sensitive to pollutants, making them an indicator species for determining the quality of water bodies. Chloroperlidae are hemimetabolous, having no pupal stage, but instead hatch from eggs as nymphs and mature directly into adults. They are omnivorous, feeding on small organisms and plant particles, and become more carnivorous as they mature. The classification of Chloroperlidae is contested, with some believing that they should be considered as members of different orders, as opposed to the order Plecoptera that they currently belong to.

Most insects reproduce oviparously, i.e. by laying eggs. The eggs are produced by the female in a pair of ovaries. Sperm, produced by the male in one testis or more commonly two, is transmitted to the female during mating by means of external genitalia. The sperm is stored within the female in one or more spermathecae. At the time of fertilization, the eggs travel along oviducts to be fertilized by the sperm and are then expelled from the body ("laid"), in most cases via an ovipositor.

Odonata are insects with an incomplete metamorphosis (hemimetabolous). The aquatic larva or nymph hatches from an egg, and develops through eight to seventeen instars before leaving the water and emerging as the winged adult or imago.

Rhynocoris longifrons is a species of assassin bug in the family Reduviidae. It is a predator of other insects and is found in Asia. Crops on which it is found feeding on pests include pigeon pea, cardamom and peanuts. The insects are potentially useful in biological control because they are more resistant to pesticides than are the pests they consume.

Rhynocoris marginatus is a species of assassin bug in the family Reduviidae. It is a predator of other insects and is found in Asia. Crops in India on which it has been found feeding on pests include sugarcane, pigeon pea, cardamom, cotton, tea, and peanuts. The insects are potentially useful in biological control because they are more resistant to pesticides than are the pests on which they feed.

Aquatic macroinvertebrates

Aquatic macroinvertebrates are insects in their nymph and larval stages, snails, worms, crayfish, and clams that spend at least part of their lives in water. They play a large role in freshwater ecosystems by recycling nutrients as well as providing food to higher trophic levels.


  1. McGavin, George C. Essential Entomology: An Order-by-Order Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. pp. 20.
  2. Baluch, Page (April 29, 2011). "Incomplete Metamorphosis Has Three Stages: Egg, Nymph, and Adult". ASU - Ask A Biologist. Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  3. Gullan, P. J.; Cranston, P. S. (2014). The Insects: An Outline of Entomology (5th ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. p. 241.