Butterfly’s Life Cycle

The Caterpillar eventually Transitions into the Adult Butterfly!  If your Class wishes to Make a Fun Mini-Butterfly House,  Materials required are: Caterpillars (can be purchased in a Pet Store or online); Milkweed (or similar plant type); Small Twigs, Leaves, and other plant matter; Terrarium with Lid

There are 4 stages for the Butterfly’s life cycle. They are: The Egg, The Larva, The Pupa, and The Adult.  The Egg – is the unborn stage. In this stage the eggs are laid by the Female Butterfly. She will generally lay her eggs on plants. The plants will be the food source for the growing Butterfly when it hatches from the egg as the caterpillar.  The Female Butterfly lays eggs in the every season, except for the winter. The exact egg-laying time depends on the species of Butterfly. During each laying, hundreds of eggs are released. Butterfly Eggs are very, very small. There is a high chance that most eggs laid will not become Butterflies, so the female lays as many eggs as she can in the hopes that at least some will grow, hatch, and survive.  (Photo: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Harlequin_Butterfly_Life_Cycle_Mariposa_arlequ%C3%ADn_%285840511508%29.jpg)

The Larva – After the egg has been laid, the next stage is the larva stage. The “Baby” emerges from the egg and is called a Caterpillar. The main job of the Caterpillar is to eat as much as it possibly can. The Caterpillar will eat and eat and grow and grow during this stage. The Caterpillar will grow so much that it will have to split and shed its skin at least 4 times. As the caterpillar eats the food is stored for it to use in later stages.

The Pupa – The Caterpillar will enter this stage after it is full grown and has eaten all it can eat. For Butterflies the pupa is called a Chrysalis. The Chrysalis may attach under a branch, bury itself underground, or hide in leaves. Different species of Butterflies spend this stage in different ways. During this stage, the Cocoon is formed to protect the growing Pupa. This stage could last up to a month! Some species are known to be in this stage for two years!

This is when the Metamorphosis or the big change occurs. Parts of the pupa will grow very quickly to make the wings, legs, and eyes of the Adult Butterfly. The stored food from the larva stage will be what the pupa lives off of as it grows inside of the Cocoon.

Did you know a Caterpillar can grow over 100 times bigger than it was when it First hatched? Most caterpillars are the size of a pen tip when they first hatch but can grow to be 2 inches long within the matter of 2 weeks!

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