[ lahr-vuh ]
See synonyms for larva on
noun,plural lar·vae [lahr-vee]. /ˈlɑr vi/.
  1. Entomology. the immature, wingless, feeding stage of an insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis.

  2. any animal in an analogous immature form.

  1. the young of any invertebrate animal.

  2. larvae, Roman Antiquity. malignant ghosts, as lemures.

Origin of larva

First recorded in 1645–55; from New Latin; special use of Latin larva “a ghost, specter, mask, skeleton”; akin to Lares

Words that may be confused with larva

Words Nearby larva Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use larva in a sentence

  • When summer comes, adult beetles attack and larva feed in the cambium layer, girdling the trees and sealing their doom.

  • The entire larva is black and the segments of the body possess numerous tubercles bearing setae.

  • As soon as it hatches the larva attacks the cricket in the belly at the chosen spot where the egg has been layed.

  • The larva of the hemerolicus feeds also on the aphides, and deposits its eggs on the leaves of such plants as are beset with them.

  • What a shelter for the larva of this Pompilus: the warm retreat and downy hammock of the Segestria!

    More Hunting Wasps | J. Henri Fabre
  • No doubt the food for her family, the larva of which I possess the empty skin, now an unrecognizable shred.

    More Hunting Wasps | J. Henri Fabre

British Dictionary definitions for larva


/ (ˈlɑːvə) /

nounplural -vae (-viː)
  1. an immature free-living form of many animals that develops into a different adult form by metamorphosis

Origin of larva

C18: (C17 in the original Latin sense: ghost): New Latin

Derived forms of larva

  • larval, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for larva


[ lär ]

Plural larvae (lär) larvas
  1. An animal in an early stage of development that differs greatly in appearance from its adult stage. Larvae are adapted to a different environment and way of life from those of adults and go through a process of metamorphosis in changing to adults. Tadpoles are the larvae of frogs and toads.

  2. The immature, wingless, and usually wormlike feeding form of those insects that undergo three stages of metamorphosis, such as butterflies, moths, and beetles. Insect larvae hatch from eggs, later turn into pupae, and finally turn into adults. Compare imago nymph pupa.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.