The majestic monarch goes through four stages in its life cycle --- egg, caterpillar (larva), chrysalis (pupa) and adult butterfly. Insects that go through four stages have what is called complete metamorphosis.

(Read about the monarch's life cycle here)

However, not all insects go through all four stages in their life cycle; some only go through three, called incomplete metamorphosis. Let's take a look at three insects that transform "incompletely."

Dragonflies

A male and female dragonfly mate while flying, and then the female will lay eggs on a plant in the water or just into the water itself.

Photo of a nymph shell

The discarded exoskeleton of a dragonfly nymph

When a dragonfly hatches, it is called a nymph. They live in the water while they grow and develop. Dragonflies can stay in this stage up to four years. If the nymph cycle is completed in wintertime, it will stay in the water until spring when it is warm enough to come out. When a nymph dragonfly crawls from the water, it will shed its skin and become an adult.

Photo of a dragonfly

Adult dragonflies live about two months.

Crickets

Cricket eggs are usually laid in the soil. Field cricket eggs hatch in the spring, usually in May.

A newly hatched cricket is called a nymph, and it will burrow to the surface of the soil it was laid in. The cricket will molt eight-10 times over the next two-three months.

Photo of African field crickets

The cricket will grow wings as it transforms into an adult. Field crickets are black or dark brown and grow to about 1 inch in length.

Cicadas

After mating, female cicadas slice into twigs 1/4- to 1//2-inch in diameter and deposit their eggs. Females can lay up to 400 eggs in 40-50 sites, and the eggs hatch after six-10 weeks.

Following hatching, the nymphs fall to the ground and burrow in the soil to feed. In periodical cicadas, the nymph stage can last up to 17 years before they emerge from the ground.

When the nymph is full-grown and the temperature is warm, it tunnels to the surface and molts one more time before becoming a winged adult.

Photo of a cicada with wings spread

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2 Comments

  1. Adam Muiz on May 22, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    Thanks, now i know that dragonfly have incomplete metamorphosis
    can you add description about cricket insect



    • kiley on May 29, 2019 at 8:11 am

      Crickets also go through incomplete metamorphosis.