Life cycle of Butterflies Complete Metamorphosis Four Stages of Life Egg Larva (Caterpillar) Pupa (Chrysalis - Butterfly or Cocoon - Moth) Adult Butterfly Butterflies and Moths belong to the Order Lepidoptera – scaled wings. Incomplete Metamorphosis Three Life Stages Egg
Butterflies and Moths belong to the Order Lepidoptera – scaled wings.
Only 12% of all insects have incomplete metamorphosis. Dragonflies are an example of insects with an incomplete metamorphosis.
Butterfly eggs are typically laid on plant leaves. This is a Monarch butterfly egg.
Eggs are attached to the plant by a sticky fluid that the female butterfly secretes. The egg is glued to the plant. Eggs are attached to a plant so strongly, that if your try to remove it, you will destroy the egg.
Lacewing butterfly eggs
The egg stage of a butterflies life cycle usually lasts a few weeks. If the eggs are laid in the fall they will overwinter to hatch in the spring.
Swallowtail butterfly eggs
The egg hatches and out comes the very hungry caterpillar!
This is Monarch caterpillar.
The caterpillar begins to eat immediately. As the caterpillar grows it will shed its skin several times, this process is called molting. Swallowtail caterpillar in picture.
The famous Woolly Bear Caterpillar will become a Isabella Tiger Moth. It is unusual because it overwinters as a caterpillar.
The Karner Blue Caterpillars have a unique relationship with ants. The ants protect them from some predators and parasites. The caterpillars secrete a sweet sticky substance that attracts and feeds the ants.
Once the larva has grown it changes into a pupa or chrysalis. The pupa stage is where the metamorphosis occurs. Butterflies build chrysalis and moths build cocoons.
The pupa stage is not a resting period. The caterpillar is actually breaking down and dissolving so that it can reform its organs, tissues, limbs and wings.
Monarch Butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.
Adult butterflies use their proboscis to drink nectar. Nectar is the only food source for adult butterflies. This is a Tiger Swallowtail.
The focus of the adult butterfly is to mate and reproduce and thus begin the cycle again. This is a male Karner Blue Butterfly.
Approximately 2% of butterfly eggs make it to the adult butterfly stage. Photo of a Clouded Sulphur butterfly.
Red Spotted Purple Admiral