Ecdysis is the moulting of the cuticle in many invertebrates. This process of moulting is the defining feature of the clade Ecdysozoa, comprising the arthropods, nematodes, velvet worms, horsehair worms, tardigrades, and Cephalorhyncha. Since the cuticle of these animals typically forms a largely inelastic exoskeleton, it is shed during growth and a new, larger covering is formed. The remnants of the old, empty exoskeleton are called exuviae.
After moulting, an arthropod is described as teneral, a callow; it is "fresh", pale and soft-bodied. Within one or two hours, the cuticle hardens and darkens following a tanning process analogous to the production of leather.
During this short phase the animal expands, since growth is otherwise
constrained by the rigidity of the exoskeleton. Growth of the limbs and
other parts normally covered by hard exoskeleton is achieved by transfer
of body fluids from soft parts before the new skin hardens. A spider
with a small abdomen may be undernourished but more probably has
recently undergone ecdysis. Some arthropods, especially large insects
with tracheal respiration, expand their new exoskeleton by swallowing or
otherwise taking in air. The maturation of the structure and colouration
of the new exoskeleton might take days or weeks in a long-lived insect;
this can make it difficult to identify an individual if it has recently
Ecdysis allows damaged tissue and missing limbs to be regenerated
or substantially re-formed. Complete regeneration may require a series
of moults, the stump becoming a little larger with each moult until it
is a normal, or near normal .