Definition of larva in English:



  • 1The active immature form of an insect, especially one that differs greatly from the adult and forms the stage between egg and pupa, e.g. a caterpillar or grub.

    Compare with nymph (sense 2)
    • ‘All flies pass through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.’
    • ‘The hatchet fish has a diet which is composed primarily of insects and larvae.’
    • ‘Once the snout contacted an ant larva or pupa, the snake would slide the ventral surface of its snout over the top of the prey until the prey item was positioned at or near the front of the mouth.’
    • ‘Once the snake's head contacted an ant larva or pupa, the snake maneuvered its head so that its mouth was positioned directly over the prey.’
    • ‘If not, the larva becomes a pupa only once it has been fully provisioned, and its actual development duration then exceeds the minimum duration.’
    • ‘There, the larva develops into a pupa, more closely resembling an adult phorid.’
    • ‘Goldfish feed on crustaceans, insect larvae, molluscs and some vegetation.’
    • ‘Stilt Sandpipers eat a wide variety of insects and insect larvae during the breeding season.’
    • ‘The life cycle of a butterfly includes four stages: egg, caterpillar or larva, pupa, and adult.’
    • ‘During the breeding season, insects and insect larvae are the primary sources of food.’
    • ‘In Nebraska it overwinters as a larvae or pupae under manure piles or in other breeding areas.’
    • ‘Once enshrouded in silk, the larva enters a new stage, that of the pupa.’
    • ‘During the breeding season, aquatic insect larvae become a predominant part of the diet.’
    • ‘Residual insecticide will kill only larvae and adults; it will not kill eggs or pupae.’
    • ‘Putsi flies have normal four life cycle stage like most insects - egg, larvae, pupa and adult.’
    • ‘Eggs are drought resistant and lay on the ground, where the larvae scavenge on dead insects.’
    • ‘The nest held 206 cells, six of which contained larvae in various stages of development.’
    • ‘On the breeding grounds, insects and insect larvae are the most important source of food.’
    • ‘A pupa is an insect in the intermediate stage between larva and adult; the term chrysalis is used of a butterfly or moth in this intermediate stage.’
    • ‘They appear in the morning and fly over turf in search of beetle grubs or the larvae of other insects.’
    1. 1.1 An immature form of other animals that undergo some metamorphosis, e.g. a tadpole.
      • ‘But the human fish appears not to complete the metamorphosis; it reaches sexual maturity as a larva.’
      • ‘Later, the tadpole larva will undergo metamorphosis to give rise to the adult frog; the tail regresses and the limbs form.’
      • ‘The eggs of most frogs hatch into aquatic, free-swimming larvae, commonly known as tadpoles.’
      • ‘Free-swimming larvae of land crabs eat plankton in the ocean.’
      • ‘A larva is an immature animal that doesn't look like the adult and differs markedly from the adult.’
      • ‘Hungry when born, sea horses eat crustacean larvae and other small creatures with their tubular mouths.’
      • ‘Zebrafish larvae at 5 dpf were fractionated into body, eye, and brain samples.’
      • ‘The free-swimming larva settles and undergoes metamorphosis into a juvenile sponge.’
      • ‘She wonders how the larvae of animals that live in hydrothermal vents get from one vent to another.’


Mid 17th century (denoting a disembodied spirit or ghost): from Latin, literally ‘ghost, mask’.