Insect Reproduction,Growth and Development
How Insects Grow
Most insects develop from an egg and, uponhatching, have a form different from that of the adult.The series of form changes as an insect develops fromegg to adult is called
. The younginsect is covered with a more or less ﬁrm skin calledthe
. As the insect feeds, it grows insidethis skin, but it cannot increase in volume because it isrestricted by its exoskeleton. A new elastic exoskeletonthen forms under the old rigid exoskeleton. The oldexoskeleton splits along the back and the insect crawlsout of its old skin and expands to its new size. Afterexposure to air for a short time, the new exoskeletonbecomes hardened and the insect is ready to resumeactivity and grow some more. The process of sheddingthe old skin is called
. Molting occurs severaltimes over varying periods of time until the ﬁnal stageis reached.With each molt insects change their form to vary-ing degrees, depending on the kind of metamorphosisthat insects may have. Most vegetable garden insectpests have either gradual (Figure 1) or completemetamorphosis (Figure 2). Examples of gradual orincomplete metemorphosis, in which the very youngresemble the adults, include plantbugs, grasshop-pers, stink bugs, squash bugs, aphids and leafhoppers.Examples of pests with complete metamorphosis areMexican bean beetles, cabbage loopers, hornworms,ﬂies, June beetles, cutworms and armyworms.
Insect infestations reduce yields and lower thequality of harvested garden vegetables. Three to sevengenerations of many insect pests attack garden
vegetables during the growing season. All plant parts
may be injured by insects. Some insects bore into roots,seeds or stems. Many suck large quantities of plantsap. Others destroy crops by chewing on the succulentfoliage, stems or fruits. Plant diseases are carried bycertain insects.Safe, effective and economical control measurescan minimize the loss from insects. Control can bemaintained all season by a combination of culturalpractices, mechanical control, biological control andchemical applications. To maintain control, followthese practices, as they apply to the vegetables in yourgarden:• Anticipate insect pest problems.• Remove other vegetation and debris that harborinsects from vegetable garden beds.• Turn under spent plants when the vegetables havebeen harvested.• Inspect plants regularly for insect infestations andspray when needed.• Apply sprays when the young, most vulnerable stages
of insect pests are beginning to hatch or emerge.• Observe use restrictions and avoid applying insecti-cide on garden vegetables within the minimumnumber of days between last application and harvest.
• Select insecticides that take a short time to controlinsects during the harvest period.
You Can ControlGarden Insects
Karen M. Vail, Associate Professor; Frank Hale, Associate Professor Harry E. Williams, Professor Emeritus, Entomology and Plant Pathology