Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


pupa (pyo͞oˈpə), name for the third stage in the life of an insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis, i.e., develops from the egg through the larva and the pupa stages to the adult. A complete metamorphosis is characteristic of members of the orders Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies, mosquitoes, and gnats) and Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). Before entering the pupa stage the insect is an active larva, usually wormlike in form. The pupa is a resting stage in which the insect is transformed into an adult. It does not feed or increase in size, and typically it is outwardly inactive and covered by a hard integument. Internally, however, a great deal of metabolic activity occurs. Some larval organs are destroyed and some adult organs are initiated during this stage. Other adult organs develop from structures already present in the larva. At the end of the pupa stage, the integument is shed and the imago, or adult form, emerges. Pupae of moths usually have an additional outer covering, called a cocoon, built by the larva (called a caterpillar) just before it enters the pupa stage. Cocoons may be made of bits of woody material held together by silk strands, or woven entirely of silk. Some cocoons are formed on or under the ground, some under tree bark; others are suspended from branches or twigs. Some moths form cocoons by wrapping leaves around themselves and gluing them together with silk. Cocoon building occurs in other insects, e.g., wasps; the material and design of the cocoon vary greatly from one group to another. Very few butterflies make cocoons, but the butterfly pupa, called a chrysalis, is usually suspended by a silk thread, and its integument is often sculptured and brightly colored. The chrysalis of the monarch butterfly is soft green with gold spots. A few insects, e.g., the mosquito, have active pupae. The duration of the pupa stage varies in different insects from a few days to several months. Many insects pass the winter in the pupa stage, and the imago emerges in the spring.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the protective formation of the pupae of many insects. The cocoon is usually woven of silk thread secreted by the larva before pupation. Cocoons of this type are those of many butterflies that spin cocoons, moths, silkworms, and some ants, whose cocoons are mistakenly called ant eggs. Many beetle larvae, such as weevils of the genus Cionus, construct cocoons of mucus secreted at the time of pupation. In some insects, pupation occurs inside the casing in which the larva has lived, for example, the sac casings of bagworm moths. The pseudo-cocoons, or puparia, of many flies consist of the skins of the larvae left after molting.

Earthworms, leeches, spiders, and some mollusks form “egg cocoons,” inside which eggs develop.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a cocoon?

Cocoons represent a place of safety, healing, or transformation. Dreaming of a cocoon may be a response to a sense of feeling overburdened with life issues and the consequent longing for relief. Such a dream may indicate a place where the consciousness can restore and re-create new paths of expression, or perhaps the birth of a new aspect of the self.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(invertebrate zoology)
A protective case formed by the larvae of many insects, in which they pass the pupa stage.
Any of the various protective egg cases formed by invertebrates.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a. a silky protective envelope secreted by silkworms and certain other insect larvae, in which the pupae develop
b. a similar covering for the eggs of the spider, earthworm, etc.
2. a protective spray covering used as a seal on machinery
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The silk growers delivered 47.66 tons of wet cocoons on June 14.
Silk cocoons are first put in hot water and once fibres start emerging from them, they are collected with a homemade machine to obtain thread.
agrestis are annual, epi-endogeic species that mature in a single season and overwinter as cocoons (capsules made of a polysaccharide compound closely related to chitin [Avel, 1959]).
"The cocoon serves as a water tank that is filled once at the time of planting.
The idea of a cocoon of thermalised gas created by the relativistic jet as it drills out of the star had been proposed and implied in other cases, but here was the evidence that we needed to pin down the existence of such a structure."
Although he had stayed in other hotels in Quezon City, he booked at Cocoon based on TripAdvisor, the American website that contains reviews of the hospitality industry.
After creating colourful silk cocoon products, Shanti Devi later started her innovative craft of making silk cocoon based ornaments and fashionable hair accessories.
In her original post, since deleted, Paige said: "So we kinda took the biggest cocoon from the butterfly farm and out come the BIGGEST butterfly I've ever seen."
Recycling works in Cocoon; in fact, recycling takes on many different meanings in this boutique hotel.
Sarah Adero is among those who sell the cocoon to Owino.
Along with appropriate clinical setting, oral and intravenous contrast enhanced computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen which shows dilated small bowel within a thick membrane, as though it were in a cocoon, is diagnostic of "sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis." The membrane surrounding the bowel causes mechanical intestinal obstruction by restricting its peristaltic activity (2,3).
This is where Cocoon's smart home security system kicks in.