The Butterfly Life Cycle!

Ready for the lowdown on one of nature's most beautiful insects? 


Butterfly on flower

We all love butterflies for their beautiful, brightly-coloured wings. But did you know that these fab flyers begin life as something completely different? As they grow, they undergo one seriously terrific transformation - a process known as 'metamorphosis'. Join NG Kids as we follow the life-cycle of this quirky creature, from the egg to the air! 


Butterfly LIfe Cycle


STAGE 1 - THE EGG


Butterfly Egg

It all starts when a female butterfly lays her eggs, usually on leaves or stems of plants. Inside these tiny eggs, caterpillars grow. Depending on the species, the eggs can vary in shape and texture - they can be round, oval or cylindrical, and smooth, bumpy or wrinkled. The time it takes for the eggs to hatch can also vary - in some species, they will hatch within a few weeks and in others they will only hatch once the weather is warm enough.



STAGE 2 - THE CATERPILLAR


Caterpillar

Once ready, the caterpillar leaves its egg home and enters the big outside world! And these little critters have one serious appetite - they actually eat their way out of the egg and immediately start chomping on the leaves of the host plant. During this stage, they shed their skin four or five times - as the caterpillar grows, its skin becomes too tight and splits open, revealing a new, larger skin underneath. A fully grown caterpillar can be over 100 times larger than when it emerged from its egg. Wow!



STAGE 3 - THE PUPA


Butterfly Pupa

Once fully grown, the caterpillar forms itself into a 'pupa' (or chrysalis) - a kind of vessel in which the caterpillar changes into a butterfly. They usually do this on twigs or safe, hidden areas around the host plant. The 'pupa' stage may last a few weeks to several months depending on the species. During this time, a hardened case forms around the pupa to protect it from predators and extreme weather conditions. And inside, the tissue, limbs and organs of the caterpillar transform. The result? A wonderful winged butterfly!



STAGE 4 - THE BUTTERFLY


Butterfly Leaving Pupa

Once the butterfly is ready to emerge, the case around the pupa splits open. But it’s not time for take off just yet, as the wings are at first wet, soft and wrinkled against its body. The butterfly waits for its wings to dry, and pumps a liquid called hemolymph into them so that they become big and strong. Once fit for flight, this brilliant bug then takes to the air in search for flowers to feed on and for other butterflies to mate with. And that’s the cycle complete - and ready to start all over again! 

Cool, huh? To find out more about these winged wonders, fly over to butterflyworldproject.com!


Butterfly


Moths also go through this process of metamorphosis. Check out the four stages of the Atlas moth - the largest moth in the world!...


Atlas Moth Metamorphosis

Images: Atlas moth: Butterfly World. All other images: Getty Images UK 

Your Comments

ghytgf
cool
Lilian
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mikogoh
I want to know more!!
cartney
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Brianashia
This is cool
raphael_f
.
raphael_f
I love butterflies and caterpillers
sammyki
SICK
sammyki
I WANT TO BE ONE.
raphael_f
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UALEC
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Elsbells54
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shellfish
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Meloetta
Suly
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shemariah
the moth thing was nasty and i love butterflies
Madio
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kayleelopez
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billy123
hi
billy123
Im Billy and i like turtles
Amoona
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Amoona
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Awesome you practically did my homework and I got an A*
#awesome-007
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perth
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beast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
tumi
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dvcsav
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bran0d3on
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nour
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pock
hi
Fan
Very instructing
little-diva777
realy help full I used this at school
may
very instresting about a life cycle of a butterfly
Turtle
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myasia
this is the butterfly
Sam
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Lot
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hi
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hi
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Keerthana
I hate butterflies
natgeocrazy
this helps me on my homework
pug love#1
talk about a me for once!
Yoson
cool thing
Yoson
Butterflys are cool
FuzzyWuzzy
the moth thing looked creepy
Qhiara
Super Informative
Chelsea
LOL
Mari0
Wow cool
luigi
wow crazy
mattie
I love butterflys
kmama3
awesome
BUTTERFLY
i love butterflys!!!!! (:
Bellatrix
Cool
mali
I love butterFLYS
Cool guy 5514
awsome butterfly's
butterly
butterflys are cool
Talha
Awesome
skylar
omg
david
cool
meli
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mel
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OZARIUS
GREAT STUFF!!!!!!!!!LOL
janiya
is it true that butterflyd are cute
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zamiyah
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that is cool
niomi
this theached me a lot of stuf
Jennifern
2 things to say number 1 COOL AWESOME RADICAL 2 thing to say I have been learning about life cycles at school
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good
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Noryang
COOL!!!!
Preme
I Li ke I Love
Lyla
I love the fact about the eggs
Lyla
I love the fact about the eggs
cliodhna
The egg looks like a grape
Jahnavi
That is amazing
Chloe
This rocks, it could do whith more interesting facts for older ones.
tanzeela
it is intresting
Tiddles
WOW. Those Butterflies are really beautiful. I have got a butterfly home with some caterpillars waiting to turn into butterflies, i hope they look like some of these butterflies!
Shanzie
Hi my name is Nicole and I am ten years old and I am in yr5 . After half term , I have thousands of tests including my first one is spellings and science which we are doing about the butterfly life cycle . This is really great homework help . Thanks
SHERELLE
Hi. I'm in year5 and In my class we have also been learning about the butterfly cycle. It's abit sad that they only live for about two odd weeks. I like all of the different coulers thy have on there backs. They are very pretty
Shanzie
This is great
Shanzie
That is really great . It will help me with my homework as my exams are coming up .
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