Facts on Butterflies Life Cycle

facts on butterflies life cycle

Female butterflies carefully choose a leaf species based on its color and shape to lay their eggs upon.

After the caterpillar has grown, its skin sheds several times before it forms a hard protective covering called a chrysalis.

As it emerges from its chrysalis, a butterfly emerges with crumpled wings. As it hangs with wings drooped down and pumps fluid from its body into them to straighten out its wings, pumping fluid from the body back into them until their appearance straightens out.


Butterfly eggs vary considerably by species. Some are spherical while others may be oval or oblong and some even dark in hue to hide from predators. Their structure is held together with special fluid that also keeps them attached to their respective leaves of origin. Each egg features microscopic funnel-shaped openings called micropyles that let water and oxygen into its interior while it develops an embryo inside. All eggs have hard outer protective shells called chorions to shield it against predators.

Female butterflies lay their eggs either individually or collectively depending on the species, and protect them from predators such as ants, birds, snails and other threats by attaching to the underside of the leaf on which they were laid – this happens thanks to secretions made by their female butterfly that adhere the eggs securely.

After the eggs have hatched, they give rise to a butterfly larva known as a caterpillar, which feeds off leaves from its host plant or another source (some species). As it develops further it molts several times which signal new instars of development before pupating finally occurs – at which point pupation takes place and the butterfly becomes its adult form.

After the caterpillar completes its metamorphosis into a pupa, it hangs its wings up and awaits transformation into an adult butterfly. If it overwinter as adults, months may pass in this stage known as the chrysalis. When emerging from its cocoon, butterflies often have crumpled wings which must be straightened by pumping fluid from their bodies into them in order to become butterflies again.

Once an adult butterfly has emerged, it can fly off in search of a mate and produce offspring of its own. Butterflies use chemical signals known as pheromones to attract potential partners or warn rivals. Their eyes help them locate food and water.


As soon as a butterfly emerges from an egg, they transform into larvae – creatures which feed off of plants as part of their diet, drink liquid, excrete waste and excrete eggs. When female butterflies begin laying eggs during this worm-like stage, female butterflies search for leaves upon which to lay them – usually by color and shape recognition as well as possibly beating on it to release an odor that helps her identify it as suitable.

After her eggs hatch, the caterpillar must eat continuously in order to grow. When it reaches an excessive size, it forms a hard shell or chrysalis in which to live while going through metamorphosis – something only found among butterflies, moths and some beetles/wasps.

When entering its chrysalis, the caterpillar releases enzymes to dissolve most of its body. Only those parts originating in its egg survive this process and become the parts which comprise its head, body, six legs and wings in later years. The chrysalis is filled with rich fluid which supports this growth and transformation.

While in its chrysalis, the caterpillar sheds its skin four times, each time becoming larger and more mature. When its final instar arrives, it finds a safe hiding spot before secreting enzymes that break down its own tissues to form an abundance of cells from which a butterfly’s new body will emerge.

At its conclusion, metamorphosis occurs. First the caterpillar transforms into a pupa (or cocoon). Once pupae are ready to emerge from chrysalis, they transform into adult butterflies with soft wings crinkled around its body and hanging down from its sides. They pump blood into their wings which inflate rapidly with air flow.

Once its wings have grown enough to fly, a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis and hangs upside down so the fluid in its wings can dry before flying off into search of food or mates. After resting a short period, they are free to fly off in search of sustenance or love.


Once a larva has reached its final size, it will look for a safe place where it can transform into an adult butterfly or moth through a process known as pupation. During this inactive stage of development it may respond occasionally to gentle touches; butterflies in this stage are known as chrysalides while moths become pupae.

The pupal stage may last anywhere from several days to several years depending on species. During this inactive stage, special cells begin developing rapidly to form legs, wings, eyes and other body parts of adult insects – these were present during embryogenesis but only began developing when larva was ready for pupation.

At the pupal stage, an insect’s old larval cuticle degenerates and falls away, while at the same time its insect forms a thick, strong pupal skin which may or may not be covered by its silk cocoon depending on species. At this point the adult insect cannot feed but will secrete fluid to soften its cocoon if any exists if necessary; both processes are controlled by hormones.

Once the pupal stage is complete, a butterfly or moth will emerge from its hard case or shell by splitting its pupal skin or eating away at it, or secreting fluid that dissolves the tough outer case of their silk cocoon – known as eclosion and caused by hormones produced by their respective insects.

Adult butterflies or moths that have recently emerged from caterpillars resemble something entirely different; with long antennae, wings and compound eyes. Their most essential activities in their lifetimes are mating and laying eggs as well as searching for suitable food sources. Many enter a period of diapause at the conclusion of their larval or pupal lives to allow them to survive through harsh winter weather before resume their growth come springtime.


Butterflies play an invaluable role in our ecosystem, from pollinating plants and controlling insect pest populations, to pollinating flowers for pollination purposes and controlling insect populations. By understanding more about their life cycles, we can help preserve their habitats and ensure their continued flourishing.

Butterflies begin their lives as eggs laid by female butterflies; once laid, she searches for an appropriate place to hide and protect her offspring from predators and threats such as other butterflies and predators. Once in place, their eggs develop into caterpillars known as larvae that soon emerge to become butterflies themselves. The next stage in a butterfly’s life cycle is known as the feeding stage. Larvae consume food all day long, which may make them hard to notice due to blending into their surroundings. As caterpillars mature their skin tightens more and they shed and split around four or five times to reveal a fresh new caterpillar with fresh new looks – these caterpillars are known as Fourth Instar caterpillars.

As the caterpillar prepares to embark upon its next life stage, it leaves its host plant in search of a safe spot to pupate. When ready, it stops eating and attaches itself to something solid such as twigs or surfaces before creating its silken cocoon called a chrysalis – and upon emerging it undergoes transformation into an adult butterfly that may take anywhere from one week to one year to complete its transformation into adulthood.

Once a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, its wings may appear wet and wrinkled; however, after pumping fluid to them they quickly dry and strengthen enough for flight. When male butterflies are ready to mate they begin patrolling for potential female partners by following other butterflies or searching for sites where females might reside.

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