Butterflies Life Cycle

Butterflies life cycle is one of the most interesting in all animals.

And it is not only the butterflies - moths, too, have exactly the same life cycle.


They undergo a metamorphosis through four stages from egg to larva, pupa, and finally adult.

Swallowtail (Papilio Machaon) Emerged from Chrysalis, Switzerland

Butterfly Eggs
The eggs are most often laid on the plants that is larval food. Most often on the undersode of the leaves, but can also be on trunk or branches.

Most often they are laid in clusters, but can also be one by one. There can be anything up to many thousand eggs laid at the time. The eggs are also called ovum.
 
Owl Butterfly Laying Eggs on a Leaf

Butterfly Larva - Caterpillar
When the eggs hatch a larvae comes out of each. The larvaes are big eaters, they start eating the plant on which they hatch straight away, and they grow quickly.

Each species have distinctive colours and pettern,some are very pretty, and as they are nutricious they are also an important part of the food chain being food for birds and other animals. Some species also have larvae that we never see because they liveunder bark or under the ground. Larvaes can produce silk.

Pearly Malachite Butterfly Caterpillar (Siproeta Stelenes), Colombia

Butterfly Pupa
Once the larvae has developed to a certain stage, it transforms into a pupa - a stage where it is not eating or doing anything else, just sitting or hanging off a branch while all its organs are transformed from a larvae to a butterfly. Silk is used to build a cocoon or hang off the branch. Some species also pupate underground.

Karner Blue Butterfly Pupa

Butterfly Adult
Once that is done, an adult butterfly disperses from the pupa. The main task of this stage is reproduction, so they quickly start mating. How long the butterflies life cycle takes depends on the species and can vary from weeks to years.




















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