The butterfly life cycle is an amazing journey of life. Butterflies change shape through 4 different stages during their lifetime This process of changing shapes is called Metamorphosis. It is beautiful, colorful, and bright. But do you know that it is not so beautiful from birth? Sometimes an adult butterfly is called imago. The adult butterfly has compound eyes, two antennas, and dust-like scales on the wings and legs that come off if one came in touch with the insect.
Butterfly Life Cycle
- The Egg – Stage 1: Eggs are laid on plants by the adult female butterfly. These plants will then become the food for the hatching caterpillars. Eggs can be laid from spring, summer, or fall. This depends on the species of butterfly. Females lay a lot of eggs at once so that at least some of them survive. Butterfly eggs can be very small.
- The Larva (Caterpillar) – Stage 2: The larvae or in this case a caterpillar that hatches goes on an eating rampage. In this stage, they eat, molt, and repeat that process constantly. After hatching the caterpillar is extremely hungry and eats constantly. The caterpillar eats its way out of the egg and then continues to eat plants in the outside world.
- The Pupa (Chrysalis) – Stage 3: When the caterpillar is full-grown and stops eating, it becomes a pupa. Depending on the species, the pupa may be suspended under a branch, hidden in leaves, or buried underground. The pupa of many moths is protected inside a cocoon of silk. This stage can last from a few weeks, a month, or even longer. Some species have a pupal stage that lasts for two years. It may look like nothing is going on but big changes are happening inside. Special cells that were present in the larva are now growing rapidly. They will become the legs, wings, eyes, and other parts of the adult butterfly. Many of the original larva cells will provide energy for these growing adult cells.
- The Adult – Stage 4: The most prominent and known stage to human beings is the adult stage when the Chrysalis breaks out of the vessel with colorful scaly wings. At first, these scaly wings are folded against the body of the butterfly because of its brittle nature. Once it pumps blood into the wing the butterfly flies in search of food and other butterflies to mate with. After the mating is completed, the female butterfly lays eggs on a leaf or flat surface and the whole cycle begins all over again. Most adult butterflies live only one or two weeks, but some species hibernate during the winter and may live for several months.