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Imperial moth (Eacles imperialis) development from egg to pupa, showing all the different instars
An instar is a developmental stage of arthropods, such as insects, between each molt (ecdysis), until sexual maturity is reached. Arthropods must shed the exoskeleton in order to grow or assume a new form. Differences between instars can often be seen in altered body proportions, colors, patterns, or changes in the number of body segments. Some arthropods can continue to molt after sexual maturity, but these subsequent molts are generally not called instars.
For most insect species the term instar is used to denote the developmental stage of the larval or nymphal forms of holometabolous (complete metamorphism) or hemimetabolous (incomplete metamorphism) insects, but the term can be used to describe any developmental stage including pupa or imago (the adult, which does not molt in insects).
Two instars of a caterpillar of Papilio polytes
The number of instars an insect undergoes depends on the species and the environmental conditions. Lower temperatures and humidity often slow the rate of development.source : [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
instar (plural instars)
Any one of the several stages of postembryonic development which an arthropod undergoes, between molts, before it reaches sexual maturity.
An arthropod at a specified one of these stages of development. [quotations ▼]
(by extension) A stage in development. [quotations ▼]source : [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]