From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
medial prolegs labelled J, anal proleg K
Lepidoptera: Papilio machaon caterpillar with 5 prolegs
Hymenoptera: Craesus septentrionalis caterpillars with 7 prolegs

A proleg is a small, fleshy, stub structure found on the ventral surface of the abdomen of most larval forms of insects of the order Lepidoptera, though they can also be found on other larval insects such as sawflies and a few types of flies. The prolegs of Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera evolved independently of each other.[1]

Prolegs of lepidopteran larvae have a small circle of gripping hooks, called "crochets". The arrangement of the crochets can be helpful in identification to family level. Prolegs are not true legs; they are not jointed, and so lack the five segments (coxa, trochanter, femur, tibia, tarsus) that true insect legs possess. They have their own musculature, but it is limited, and much of the movement of the prolegs is accomplished via hydraulics.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Suzuki, Y.; Palopoli, M. (2001). "Evolution of insect abdominal appendages: Are prolegs homologous or convergent traits?". Development Genes and Evolution 211 (10): 486–492. doi:10.1007/s00427-001-0182-3. PMID 11702198.  edit
  • Peterson, A. 1948. Larvae Of Insects. Part I: Lepidoptera & Hymenoptera; Part II: Coleoptera, Diptera, Neuroptera, Siphonaptera, Mecoptera, Trichoptera. Columbus, OH.
  • Richards, O.W. & R.G. Davies. 1977. Imm's General Textbook of Entomology, 10th ed. (2 Volumes). Chapman & Hall, London.
  • Snodgrass, R.E. 1935 (1993 reprint). Principles of Insect Morphology. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

External links[edit]