The Cycle Life of Butterfly

Butterfly lifecycle begins when female butterflies lay eggs – either spherical or cylindrical in shape and of various colors – to start their life cycle.

As soon as the eggs hatch, a caterpillar emerges and begins eating steadily, eventually moulting multiple times as it grows larger.

Once it reaches this stage, the caterpillar stops feeding and enters pupal mode; at this point it creates a protective shell called a chrysalis which protects it during overwintering for many species – often up to 18 months or more!


Eggs are essential components of butterfly lifecycle and development. A fertilized egg contains all of the components required for adult butterfly development; female butterflies deposit them on specific plant species which serve as host plants for their respective butterfly species, either singly (as with monarchs) or clustered (in case of Malacosoma americanum eastern tent caterpillar moths).

Once a butterfly has laid its egg, its embryo begins to develop rapidly. Once fertilized, the egg undergoes rapid cell division before darkening to signify embryo development. Larvae can often be found consuming their host plant where they were first found and will consume their way through.

Once a larva has reached full-grown size, it stops eating and forms a hard shell called a chrysalis, entering a pupal stage that lasts anywhere from weeks or months depending on its species of butterfly. At this stage in its lifecycle, pupae are highly vulnerable and slow growing stages.

A butterfly’s final stage of development, metamorphosis, takes place within its chrysalis. Here, it undergoes dramatic and exciting change as it transforms from larva to mature insect with varied physical characteristics and diet as adults do. Students can explore this dramatic and exciting time through Twinkl Originals story “The Cautious Caterpillar”, available as eBook, Story PowerPoint presentation or printed book format – these resources were developed collaboratively with teachers and include ready-made supporting resources!


Once it hatches from an egg, larvae feed themselves out into the world by munching away at its host plant’s leaves until its skin tightens up too much; at that point it begins molting (shedding old skin to reveal new, larger ones beneath), with caterpillars typically going through this stage four to five times over its lifetime depending on species and growth conditions.

Each time a caterpillar molts, its cells begin to transform into parts of a butterfly: wings, two feet, eyes and even the genitalia! But this phase is more than just about growth: it also allows it to store food reserves for later stages in its life cycle.

As the caterpillar grows in size, it produces more eggs. At its final instar (the fifth), it’s ready to transform into an adult butterfly; but first it must find an ideal spot for its final chrysalis.

Once they locate an appropriate plant species to host them, female butterflies create silk pads from which to hang and anchor it with hook-covered appendages known as cremasters, before covering each one in silk to form a chrysalis that could take anywhere from days or months depending on species and growing conditions. Inside their cocoon, amazing things happen; on a cellular level the caterpillar molts into an adult butterfly!


The pupal stage of a butterfly’s life is one of its most captivating phases, serving as the final stage in complete metamorphosis and transition from caterpillar to winged adult butterfly. At this time, old body parts begin to break down while special cells grow rapidly into wings, legs, eyes and other parts that will comprise its adult form.

Once a caterpillar reaches maturity, it stops feeding and forms a pupal case known as a chrysalis for pupation. Chrysalises can often be found on branches, leaves and bark although some species prefer protected places like cracks in the ground or underground to pupate in. Prothoracicotropic hormones signal this change to take place and prepare the caterpillar to become a butterfly.

Once inside a chrysalis, the caterpillar is protected from predators by its hard outer shell and may remain there for weeks or months, depending on temperature and species of butterfly. During this period of development of wings patterns and colors of its final butterfly form.

Once its wings have hardened sufficiently, a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis and hangs upside-down to allow its wings to dry and harden while it waits for its mating partner. Pheromones act as chemical signals to attract potential partners.

Once a butterfly is fertilized, it will fly away and begin its next cycle of life. Males and females will search for suitable spots where to lay eggs; once laid by females they must protect the eggs from predators or weather elements before searching for a safe location to store them until their hatchlings emerge from utero. Males tend to fly high places such as hills or prominent trees where their pheromones or visual signals from their wings’ color and pattern may attract females.


Once a caterpillar reaches maturity, it locates a safe space to molt for the final time and create a protective shell called a chrysalis that looks similar to leaves – this stage of butterfly development is critical for its survival as predators cannot see through its camouflage and are likely to pass by without notice.

The chrysalis is an integral component of butterfly development as it serves to prepare it for adulthood. Here, its wings and patterns begin taking form before adult butterflies emerge to fly and lay eggs. Additionally, blood will flow freely within its chambers to fuel flight.

At this sedentary stage of butterfly life cycle development, almost all its organs are reorganized and digested into a new body; the eyes and mouth parts reshaped to fit within its wings; eyes may even close off to become part of their wings. It may take up to a month in its cocoon for it to finally emerge into full form as a butterfly!

At the right moment, butterflies make a pad of silk on the underside of their chrysalis and attach it to a branch with its hook-covered appendage called a cremaster, before hanging upside down using their cremaster to secure J-shaped position. Certain species enter diapause during fall months so as to make it through to Spring as pupae.


Once a caterpillar reaches maturity, it stops feeding and enters what’s known as a chrysalis – a protective case known as an egg case that attaches to either twigs or walls and splits open revealing an exquisite egg case where its old body parts transform into wings, legs and other vital structures for when it emerges as an adult butterfly.

After some rest and pumping blood into its wings, a new adult butterfly will soon be ready to fly off into the sky. While its wings may initially look damp and wrinkled, they will soon transform into strong and functional surfaces that look smooth.

Butterflies unwittingly transfer pollen between flowers as they flit through the air, aiding reproduction for many plant species and providing energy needed for flight. As they hop from one to another, nectar-laden blossoms provide them with fuel to fly.

At the final stage of butterfly life cycles lies mating and egg laying; these acts begin another cycle. Male butterflies will patrol or hang near plants where females might be present, and when they sense potential mates they will swoop down and initiate mating rituals.

Few species of butterflies utilize complex mating strategies; most rely on perfumed scents known as pheromones or visual cues such as wing patterns and colors to attract potential mates. Female butterflies will then lay their eggs on host plant leaves where male butterflies have already laid them; once this cycle has repeated itself it begins all over again – though most butterfly species only live for weeks at most! Every flutter of wings and sip of nectar represents life itself while reminding us how important biodiversity conservation efforts must remain!

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