Life Cycle of a Butterfly

What is the Life Cycle of a Butterfly

life_cycle_of_a_butterfly

Life Cycle of a butterfly is an amazing jouney of life. Butterflies change shape  through FOUR different stages during their lifetime:

  1. THE EGG,
  2. LARVA (CATERPILLAR),
  3. THE PUPA (CHRYSALIS),
  4. THE ADULT BUTTERFLY.

This process of changing shapes is called Metamorphosis.

Life Cycle of a Butterfly is an example of Complete Metamorphosis.

What is Animal Life Cycle: The life cycle of an animal shows how they grow and change over time.

As we all like the beautiful, colorful and bright butterflies. But do you know that it is not so beautiful from birth? In this article we will see the fascinating transformation from the eggs to beautiful butterflies.

Life Cycle of a Butterfly

life_cycle_of_a_butterfly

What are the 4 Stages of a Butterfly Life Cycle

Stage 1: Egg

life_cycle_of_a_butterfly
Eggs of the Butterfly

A butterfly begins life as a FERTILIZED EGG. A female butterfly lays a lot of eggs usually on leaves or stems of plants. Butterfly eggs are very tiny and may be in different shapes like spherical, oval or cylindrical.

Butterfly eggs are surrounded by a layer called a “CHORION” which is surrounded by a thin layer of wax which prevents it from getting dry.

The first stage of the life cycle of a butterfly [i.e.Egg] usually lasts 3-7 days but this may vary.

Stage 2: Caterpillar or Larva

The LARVA, or CATERPILLAR, that hatches from the egg is the SECOND stage of the life cycle of the butterfly. The plural for larva is called LARVAE.

life_cycle_of_a_butterfly
Caterpillar or Larva of Butterfly

A caterpillar’s main activity is EATING. They almost never stop eating so they can grow quickly.

The first meal for most caterpillars is the eggshell and then they eat the leaf they were born onto. The mother butterfly needs to lay her eggs on the specific type of leaf the caterpillar can eat.

Before going to the third stage of life, butterflies increase their body mass over 100 times larger than it’s birth size.

The development of a caterpillar is step by step, called INSTAR

At this stage the outer layer of the caterpillar, called the CUTICLE, is removed. This process of cuticle removal is also called APOLYSIS or MOLTING.

In simple words, molting means shedding the outgrown skin.

Caterpillar undergoes about 4 to 6 moltings. It means they shed their skin 4-5 times.

Stage 3: The Pupa or Chrysalis

life_cycle_of_a_butterfly
The Pupa or Chrysalis
THE PUPA or CHRYSALIS is the THIRD stage of Butterfly life cycle. The chrysalis (or pupa) hangs down from the twigs or safe area around the plant where it took birth. During this stage, the old body parts of the caterpillar go through an incredible change called Metamorphosis.   Inside the chrysalis its organs are beginning to form. In a couple of days, the butterfly is fully formed in the chrysalis. Now the chrysalis skin starts to get thinner, so the wings of butterflies can be seen. 

Do you know? Depending on the species of the butterfly, the pupa stage may last for just a couple of days or it may last for more than a year. Many butterfly species overwinter or hibernate as pupa. Now we are ready for the final stage of a butterfly’s life cycle.

Stage 4: Adult Butterfly

life_cycle_of_a_butterfly
The Adult Butterfly

The adult Butterfly is the FOURTH and final stage of life cycle of a butterfly.

When a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis its wings are wet and wrinkled. The butterfly hangs with its wings down and starts pumping a liquid called HEMOLYMPH to their wings so that they become big and strong.

After a few hours the butterfly became ready to take its first flight.

At this last stage of the life cycle of a butterfly, adult female butterflies lay their eggs on some leaves and the life cycle of a butterfly begins again.

Summary - Four Stages of the Lyfe Cycle of a Butterfly

Stage 1. Egg

  • Female Butterflies lay their eggs on plant leaves and stems

Stage 2. Caterpillar or Larva 

  • A Caterpillar hatches from the egg.
  • The Caterpillar spends its most of the time eating and growing.
  • The first meal for most caterpillars is the eggshell and then they eat the leaf they were born onto.
  • At this stage, it sheds its skin four or five times.

Stage 3. Pupa or Chrysalis

  • During this stage, the old body parts of the caterpillar go through an incredible change called Metamorphosis.
  • Inside the chrysalis its organs are beginning to form. In a couple of days, the butterfly is fully formed in the chrysalis.

Stage 4. Adult Butterfly 

  • The adult butterfly comes out of the pupa with wet and wrinkled wings.
  • The butterfly hangs with its wings down and starts pumping a liquid called HEMOLYMPH to their wings so that they become big and strong.
  • This is the last stage of the life cycle of a butterfly.

Diffrences Between Butterfly and Dragonfly

Butterfly

life_cycle_of_a_butterfly

Butterflies belong to the order Lepidoptera (which means scaly wings)

➤  Butterflies have long antennae.

Butterflies mostly feed on nectar.

➤ Young butterflies are called caterpillars.

➤ A Butterfly starts its life on land.

➤ The Wings of butterflies are more delicate.

➤ Butterfly wings are mostly opaque and colorful.

Butterflies undergo completel metamorphosis.

Dragonfly

life_cycle_of_a_butterfly

➤  Dragonflies belong to the order named Odonata – (which means tooth)

Dragonflies have short antennae.

➤ Dragonflies feed on other insects

➤ Young dragonflies are called nymphs

➤ Dragonfly starts its life in the water.

➤ The wings of dragonflies are sturdier than butterflies.

Dragonfly wings are often transparent.

Dragonflies undergo partial metamorphosis.

Butterfly Facts For Kids

➤ FACT 1. There are about 165,000 species of the butterflies

➤ FACT 2. Butterflies sometimes drink from mud puddles – Apart from drinking nectar, butterflies also need minerals to survive. They occasionally sip from mud puddles to fulfil their requirements of minerals and salts.

➤ FACT 3. Butterflies taste with their feet.

➤ FACT 4. Butterflies have taste receptors located on their feet to help them find their host plants and locate food.

life_cycle_of_a_butterfly
Queen Alexandra's Birdwing, the largest butterfly in the world.

➤ FACT 5. Butterflies glue their eggs to leaves – Female butterflies use a special sticky fluid like glue to attach their eggs to plants. The glue helps keep the eggs stuck safe in place.

➤ FACT 6. Butterflies drinks not eats – Adult butterflies can only drink liquids i.e nectar but they can’t chew solids.

➤ FACT 7. Butterfly Wings Are Transparent.

Butterfly FAQs

Q. What are the Best Garden Plants to Attract Butterflies?

A. Here are some great nectar plants that attracts butterflies – Alyssum , Aster, Bee balm, Butterfly bush, Cosmos, Daylily, Delphinium, Dianthus, Fennel, Lavender, Milkweed, Willow etc.

Q. What Do Butterflies Eat?

A. Most adult butterflies drink nectar from flowers.

Q. How long do butterflies live?

A. On average the lifespan of an adult butterfly is from two to four weeks.

Q. Why are butterfly wings so colorful?

A. The colorful and vivid color of a butterfly is also a part of adaptation. It acts as camouflage, mate attraction and also a warning signal. Now the question is, where do butterflies get their color?

There are mainly TWO sources from where butterflies take their vivid color.

The FIRST are pigmented colors which are simply ordinary chemical pigments that absorb certain wavelengths of light and reflect others.

The SECOND source of color is called structural color and results from the specific structure of the butterflies’ wings.

Q. What is the difference between Butterfly and Moths?

A. Although both of these fluttering insects come under the classification Lepidoptera.

Butterflies and moths have a lot in common. Both of these insects are part of the same insects family i.e. Lepidoptera. It means scale winged.

But they possess many differences between them, some of them are following

  • Moths rest with their wings open, whereas butterflies tend to rest with their wings closed.
  • Butterflies are active for gathering food during the daytime (diurnal), whereas Moths are seen more active at night (nocturnal)
  • Butterflies have long, thin antennae, while Moth antennae tend to be leaf or feather shaped.
  • Most Moths make a silky cocoon, while butterflies usually make a shiny chrysalis
  • In general, moths tend to be duller and less vibrant in colour, but butterflies are very colorful

Q. What is the largest butterfly on earth?

A. Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing is the largest living butterfly on the earth. It’s wingspan is about 25 cm (9.8 inches).

Q. What is the smallest butterfly on earth?

A. The smallest butterfly in the world is the Western Pygmy Blue. it is found in the southern United States. Its wingspan is 0.5 to 0.75 inch.

Q. What is the largest moth on the earth?

A. Atlas Moth is the largest moth in the world. It has a wingspan of 10 inches and is native to Southeast Asia.

Q. What is the rarest butterfly on earth?

A. The Palos Verdes Blue is the rarest butterfly in the world.

Q. What is the most common butterfly in the world?

A. Cabbage White is the most common butterfly in the world.

Reference site for the life cycle of a butterfly – Here 

Here you will learn about different life cycles of animals.

Translate »
Scroll to Top