Life Cycle of a Butterfly

Butterfly life Cycle – The Butterfly Life Cycle Explained

“Happiness is a butterfly,” wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne. Most people would agree that it is wonderful watching a caterpillar turn into a beautiful butterfly. The life cycle of a butterfly is amazing. Read on to find out how a butterfly goes from an egg to a butterfly!

What is the Life Cycle of a Butterfly

Life cycle refers to the stages of development, growth and reproduction that a living thing goes through. To grow into an adult, a butterfly goes through four stages: egg , Larva (Caterpillar) , Pupa (Chrysalis) and Butterfly. This process of development is called metamorphosis.

Life cycle of a butterfly

Metamorphosis meaning

  • Metamorphosis is a Greek word that means transformation or change in shape. Metamorphosis is when a living thing changes form dramatically over the course of its life such as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

The First Stage :- The Egg

Life cycle of a Butterfly 4

🥚 The first stage of a butterfly’s life cycle is the egg. The life cycle of a butterfly starts when a female butterfly lays her eggs on a leaf or the stem of a plant. Tiny caterpillars grow inside these eggs.

Depending on the species, the eggs can vary in shape and texture. They can be round, oval or cylindrical, and smooth, bumpy or wrinkled. The time it takes for the eggs to hatch can also vary. Some species usually hatch within a few weeks and in others they will only hatch once the weather is warm enough.

The Second Stage :- From Egg to Caterpillar ( Larva )

Life cycle of a Butterfly 1

🐛 The second stage of a butterfly’s life cycle is the caterpillar. The caterpillar is the larval stage of the life cycle. When a caterpillar is ready, it eats its way out of its egg.  After the egg hatches, the tiny caterpillar’s job is to eat. It starts by eating the leaf it was born on.

As the caterpillar eats more and more, it gets bigger and bigger. The caterpillar begins to grow rapidly, getting ready for the next stage. The caterpillar will need to shed its skin because it becomes too tight. A caterpillar may shed its skin four or five times as it grows.

The Third Stage :- From Caterpillar to Chrysalis ( Pupa )

Life cycle of a Butterfly 3

🐛 The third stage in the butterfly’s life cycle is the pupa, or chrysalis. When a caterpillar is fully grown, it changes itself into a chrysalis. While in this stage, the caterpillar hangs from a branch. The caterpillar’s skeleton is on the outside; this is called an exoskeleton. 

Inside the exoskeleton, the caterpillar is undergoing a change. During this stage, the caterpillar pupa is turning into a butterfly. When all of the changes have occurred, the pupa is ready for the final stage of the butterfly’s life cycle.

The Fourth Stage :- Adult Butterfly

Life cycle of A Butterfly 2

🦋 Finally, the butterfly’s life cycle enters the fourth and final stage. When the butterfly is ready, the casing of the chrysalis splits open and the butterfly emerges (comes out). As soon as it comes out of the chrysalis, the butterfly flaps its wings to get blood flowing into them. 

The butterfly cannot fly straight away as its wings are soft, wet and wrinkled. The butterfly waits for its wings to dry, and pumps a liquid called hemolymph into them so that they become big and strong. Once fit for flight, the caterpillar then takes to the air in search of flowers to feed on and for other butterflies to mate with. And that’s the cycle complete – and ready to start all over again!

Butterfly Life Cycle 

Butterflies have a complete life cycle with four separate stages.

What happens during the first stage of Life Cycle of a Butterfly ?

🥚 During the first stage of the butterfly life cycle , the female butterfly lays her eggs onto a leaf , stem or another object. The new butterfly starts life as a very small egg. The eggs can be round , oval or cylindrical and some are ribbed. The shape depends on the type of butterfly that has laid the eg. If you look really closely , you can actually see the caterpillar growing inside the egg.

What happens during the second stage of life Cycle of a Butterfly ?

🐛 During the second stage , a caterpillar ( or larva ) hatches. It is the long , worm – like stage of the butterfly life cycle. Most caterpillars have interesting patterns , stripes or patches and sometimes spine – like hairs. In this stage , the caterpillar needs to eat lots to grow. The caterpillar usually starts by eating the leaf they were born onto. They do not stay in this stage for long. As it gets bigger , the caterpillar sheds its skin four or more times. 

What happens during the third stage of life Cycle of a Butterfly ? 

🐛 During the third stage , the caterpillar forms a chrysalis ( or pupa ) which is usually brown or green so it is camouflaged. Many hibernate during the winter at this stage. This is the transformation stage , when the caterpillar tissues are broken down and the adult’s insect structures are formed , including growing wings. From the outside , it can look like it is just resting , but inside the pupa , it is changing rapidly as the metamorphosis happens. 

What happens during the fourth stage of life Cycle of a Butterfly ?

🦋 The caterpillar transforms into a colourful adult butterfly. When it first emerges , its wings are soft and folded against its body because it had to fit inside the pupa. The butterfly rests and then blood pumps into its wings and they start working and flapping. The butterfly usually learns to fly in 3 or 4 hours. This is the reproductive and active stage. This is usually when the adult butterfly migrates or moves to a new habitat. The adults also mate and the female butterflies lay eggs , beginning the life cycle again.

Fun Facts! about Life Cycle of a Butterfly

  •  Most caterpillars have 16 legs. 
  • Caterpillars sometimes have tiny hairs on their bodies. This helps to protect them from predators.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs related to Life Cycle of a Butterfly

1. Why are butterflies advanced insects ?

Ans. Butterflies are advanced insects because they go through a complete metamorphosis.

2. What is metamorphosis ?

Ans. Metamorphosis is a Greek word that means transformation or change in shape. Metamorphosis is when a living thing changes form dramatically over the course of its life such as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

3. What shape can the butterfly egg be and what does it depend on ?

Ans. They can be round , oval or cylindrical and some are ribbed. The shape depends on the type of butterfly that laid the egg.

4. What can you see inside the butterfly egg if you look really closely ?

Ans. If you look really closely , you can actually see the caterpillar growing inside the egg.

5. What does the caterpillar need to do in the second stage ?

Ans. In this stage , the caterpillar needs to eat lots to grow.

6. What happens to the caterpillar’s skin ?

Ans. it gets bigger , it sheds its skin four or more times.

7. What happens during the caterpillar’s transformation ?

Ans. This is the transformation stage , when the caterpillar tissues are broken down and the adult’s insect structures are formed , including growing wings.

8. What can it look like the caterpillar is doing from outside the pupa and what is happening inside ?

Ans. From the outside , it can look like it is just resting , but inside the pupa , it is changing rapidly as the metamorphosis happens.

9. What is the fourth stage of the butterfly life cycle called and where does the butterfly go ?

Ans. The fourth stage is called the adult butterfly stage. This is usually when the adult butterfly migrates or moves to a new habitat.

10. What are the wings like when the butterfly first emerges and why ?

Ans. When it first emerges , its wings are soft and folded against its body because it had to fit inside the pupa.

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