Life Cycle of a Butterfly

One of the most well-known and human-friendly insect is the butterfly. This flying insect belongs to the Lepidoptera group. Even the moth are categorized in this group. The word ‘Lepidoptera‘ belongs to the Greek word that means ‘scaly wings’.

Still more to be known, however till date there are more than 2000 species of butterflies present on the globe. These are the cold blooded animals, that needs external heat to maintain their body temperature.

Scientific Classification of a Butterfly

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Lepidoptera

Suborder: Rhopalocera

super families division

Superfamily: Hedyloidea

Family: Hedylidae

Superfamily: Papilionoidea

Families: Lycaenidae ( the Blues and Coppers), Nymphalidae ( the Brush-footed), Papilionidae ( the Swallowtails and Birdwings), Pieridae (the White and Yellows), Riodinidae (the Metalmark), Hesperiidae.

The life cycle of the butterfly is amazing an unique too. It has four life stages – the egg, the larva ( caterpillar), the pupa ( chrysalis) and the adult butterfly. Each of the levels are unrepeated and exclusive too when proceeding into the development of an individual species. The caterpillar, eat a lot and at the adult they reproduce and lay eggs. The number of days of a cycle completely depends on the species of a butterfly, that may last for a several week to a year even.

Stage One: The Butterfly Eggs

The butterfly lays egg that usually last for 3-7 days, that can differ among various species of butterflies. In fact some species undergoes di-pause during winter to survive that season as eggs. Adult butterfly lay 100 of eggs at a time and only few cop up till end.

The eggs are small round, oval or cylindrical in shape, that depends on the type of species of a butterfly. The eggs are usually found on the leaves of a plant. The mother or an female adult butterfly uses a glue-like substance to make the eggs stick to the leaf. The eggs provide sufficient nutrient to the growing one, and even it (egg) has tine funnel shape opening for the entrance of water and air.

Stage Two: The Butterfly Caterpillar

The egg hatches and the tiny caterpillar or larva comes out of it. The eggshell is the first meal of the most caterpillars. In order to increase the body mass thousands of times, the caterpillar become or set themselves as an “eating-machine” so that they can pupate further.

caterpillar 2

The caterpillar stage last for around 2-5 weeks, that may vary with different species and conditions. It has been observed that the caterpillar is the most crucial stage, as the mortality rate gets increased here and the caterpillars are prone to diseases, predator’s and parasites.

Stage Three: The Butterfly Chrysalis

After reaching the stage where caterpillar attain its full size, they emerges into “chrysalis” or “pupa”. In this they are getting into the process of metamorphosis or transformation and the parts of an adult butterfly begins to form.

One of the known species of ‘Swallowtail’ butterflies is that these insects spend whole winter season in the chrysalis stage, and it emerges in the spring season to search the host plants.

Stage Four: Adult Butterfly

This stage is the last and beginning of an Butterfly. After coming out of the of the chrysalis stages, the wings of a butterfly are crumpled. To straighten them ( wings), the butterfly will try hard by hanging with the wings down and pumping them to make it to the full length. However, its a time taking process and after working for several hours, the wings becomes larger in size and dry to fly.

In this stage the, after undergoing into the metamorphosis, the chrysalis opens, and an imago or an adult butterfly comes out. These insects are fully developed having two antennae, compound eyes, long legs. However, the wings are folded, and are about to unfold that comes out to colorful and soft. Once the wings becomes dry and hard, the adult butterfly is ready to take its first flight. The target of the newly winged butterfly is to search the nectar-producing flowers.

butterfly 2

Interesting fact of one the type of butterfly known as ‘Monarch butterfly’ when it hatches from its egg is about 26 mm long only, but when it is fully developed as an adult it size gets enlarge up to 2 inches and then too within a few weeks.

The life- span of butterflies at this stage is if 2-3 weeks, however it may vary among other speices. While speding their life as an adult, the role of female adult butterfly is to find a mate and a plant where it can lay their eggs, in order to continuation of the life cycle again.

The fully developed butterfly have proper wings, having numerous scales on its wings, which are colorful and helpful in attracting the partner to mate. With the unique design, the butterfly body can be differentiated into three main body parts: head, thorax and abdomen. The head is the upper body part, followed by the thorax that is middle or the chest part and then the abdomen or tail or the last body part. It has six legs and wings, two antennae and an exoskeleton.

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