n. 1651 'disembodied spirit; ghost', from Lat. larva 'ghost (of the dead that pursues the living)'.

The New English application to insects in grub state owes to Linnaeus. The former sense is obsolete except with the adjective 'ghostly' which survives regionally.

Lar"va (?), n.; pl. L. Larvae (#), E. Larvas (#). [L. larva ghost, specter, mask.]

1. Zool.

Any young insect from the time that it hatches from the egg until it becomes a pupa, or chrysalis. During this time it usually molts several times, and may change its form or color each time. The larvae of many insects are much like the adults in form and habits, but have no trace of wings, the rudimentary wings appearing only in the pupa stage. In other groups of insects the larvae are totally unlike the parents in structure and habits, and are called caterpillars, grubs, maggots, etc.

2. Zool.

The early, immature form of any animal when more or less of a metamorphosis takes place, before the assumption of the mature shape.

 

© Webster 1913.

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