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insect development from egg, through successive larval instars, pupa, and adult; the latter is distinct from the first two forms of the insect, permitting specialization of feeding (larval) and reproductive-flying functions (adult); characteristic of the higher insect orders, such as Coleoptera (beetles), Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants), Diptera (two-winged flies), and Siphonaptera (fleas).
Synonym(s): holometabolous metamorphosis
A type of metamorphosis in which an insect passes through distinct egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages, and the larva does not resemble the adult. Also called holometabolism.