Life Cycle of a ButterflyButterflies are part of the class of insects in order Lepidoptera, along with the moth. Butterflies are the one of the most beautiful creations. They are well known for their bright and colourful wings. Let’s discuss butterfly life cycle in detail. Butterflies have the typical four-stage insect life cycle. These stages named as; egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Each stage has its different goal-for instance, caterpillar need to eat a lot and adult need to reproduce. Complete life cycle of a butterfly can take one month to a whole year depending on the species type.
The First Stage: The EggThe life of butterfly starts as a very small, round or cylindrical egg. The exciting thing about butterfly eggs, especially monarch butterfly eggs, is that if you look close enough you can actually see the tiny caterpillar growing inside of it. Usually butterfly lays eggs on leaves of the plant. So if you are actively searching for these very tiny eggs, you will have to take some time and examine quite a few leaves in order to find some.
The Second Stage: The Larva (Caterpillar)When the egg finally hatches, a little larva comes out. Butterfly larvae are actually what we call caterpillars. Caterpillars start his work and eat the leaf they were born onto. Caterpillars need to eat and eat so they can grow quickly. When a caterpillar is born, they are extremely small. When they start eating, they instantly start growing and expanding. Their exoskeleton (skin) does not stretch or grow, so they grow by “molting” (shedding the outgrown skin) several times while it grows. Caterpillars do not stay in this stage for very long and mostly, in this stage all they do is eat.
The Third Stage: Pupa (Chrysalis)The pupa stage is one of the most important stages of a butterfly’s life. As soon as a caterpillar is done growing and they have reached their full length/weight, they form themselves into a pupa, also known as a chrysalis. From the outside of the pupa, it looks as if the caterpillar may just be resting, but the inside is where all of the action is. Inside of the pupa, the caterpillar is rapidly changing.
Now, as most people know, caterpillars are short, stubby and have no wings at all. Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, called ‘metamorphosis,’ to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge. Tissue, limbs and organs of a caterpillar have all been changed by the time the pupa is finished, and is now ready for the final stage of a butterfly’s life cycle.
The Fourth Stage: Adult ButterflyFinally, when the caterpillar has done all of its forming and changing inside the pupa.. When the butterfly first emerges from the chrysalis, both of the wings are going to be soft and folded against its body. This is because the butterfly had to fit all its new parts inside of the pupa.
As soon as the butterfly has rested after coming out of the chrysalis, it will pump blood into the wings in order to get them working and flapping – then they get to fly. Usually within a three or four-hour period, the butterfly will master flying and will search for a mate in order to reproduce.
When in the fourth and final stage of their lives, adult butterflies are constantly on the look out to reproduce and when a female lays their eggs on some leaves, the butterfly life cycle will start all over.
My Experience:I first met Monarch butterfly Chrysalis in my garden few days ago. In the morning, while watering my plants, suddenly I saw little creature hanging on the branch of Elephant bush. I was so happy and feeling blessed and started keeping extra care for that particular plant in my garden. I first took the pot inside the room for safety point of view to keep it away from predators (birds). I hadn’t thought that one day I would get a chance to see butterfly growing in my home.
After 5 days the green chrysalis turned out into transparent covering and inside chrysalis, a complete metamorphosis was going on. The wings were visible from cover itself.
It was March 18, 2016, in the morning at 8:00 am I saw the shell was already opened and a butterfly has emerged out of the covering. It was resting on the same branch as their wings were so small to fly. The butterfly pumps body fluid, called hemolymph into the wings to make them grow big and strong.
When the wings got fully expanded the butterfly excreted a few drops of some liquid. This is also known as meconium, it was the waste product by the monarch while it was a chrysalis. After some time its wings expanded and dried, and a beautiful butterfly started flying in my garden.