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10 Interesting Facts About Butterflies & Their Lifecycle in Detail

May 16, 2018

Butterflies are one of the most beloved species in the world which are fun and pleasant to watch. There is a massive number of butterfly species in the whole world, and the scientists are continuing to discover more and more new butterfly species. The butterfly life cycle is also as beautiful and miraculous as a butterfly is. Now let us understand how a butterfly grows up and how it becomes a pretty fluttery insect from a caterpillar:

To start with let us categorise the life cycle of a butterfly into four stages that are eggs, larva state, pupa and finally an adult butterfly. The butterfly lifecycle has these four stages, and each stage has its own different form, its own importance, and its own goals. When you talk about the caterpillars they are like eating machines, when you talk about the adult butterflies, they have the intentions of reproduction and producing more such new butterflies and also renders a helping hand for the pollination process of flowers. Every stage has its own importance and in a combined form helps in the completion of a butterfly lifecycle. If you are wondering about the time period, that a butterfly takes to complete its whole lifecycle and to transform into an adult then this may vary from species to species. Some butterfly may take an entire year to complete the whole process whereas some may finish it in a short span of just one month. So let us now start with the four stages of a butterfly lifecycle.

4 Stages of a Butterfly Lifecycle.

1. Primary stage: eggs

When an adult female butterfly mates with its male counterpart then she lays eggs which are in the form of oval or cylindrical shape. If you have a closer look at the eggs of a butterfly, then you can even see a caterpillar growing inside the eggs which are not possible to witness in any other animals or insects which lays eggs. The eggs of a monarch butterfly give you a closer and unobstructed view of a caterpillar starting to emerge out from the eggs. Even the eggs of a butterfly may differ from each other depending on their shapes; some may be cylindrical, some oval, some round and even ribbed ones. The shape of the eggs is something natural depending on the butterfly which has laid the egg. You must also be aware of the fact that butterfly lay their eggs on tree leaves and if you want to have an in-depth study about the eggs and their shapes and patterns, then you have to go hunting for the leaves where you sight frequent visit of butterflies just to find out the eggs of a butterfly.

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2. Secondary stage: larva or caterpillar

monarch butterfly caterpillar

Many of you might think like as a baby chick comes out of an egg when the egg of a hen hatches in the same way a butterfly also comes out when the egg of a butterfly hatches. But this is a wrong myth that many people have in their minds; it is actually a caterpillar that comes out when the egg of a butterfly hatches and not a tiny butterfly. In the second stage of a butterfly lifecycle, a caterpillar comes out of the egg and turn out to be eating machines which have a whole sole motive of eating and eating. An unbelievable fact is that they can even eat food in a quantity greater than their body size. This is the stage when the caterpillar grows and reach to a state which determines the size of the adult butterfly. As soon as a caterpillar comes out of the egg, they start eating up the leaves on which they rested during their first stage. Another well-known fact about the leaves on which the butterfly lays its eggs is that the mother butterfly lays its eggs only on those leaves which can be eaten up by the baby caterpillars. Every butterfly has its own different choices of leaves and thus before laying the eggs, the mother butterfly ensures that it is putting its eggs only on those leaves which can be consumed by its babies. As every mother knows about the choices and preferences of their kids, the female butterfly also takes care that it lays eggs on such leaves which are preferred by its babies. Another thing about the type of leaf that female butterfly chooses is that the caterpillars are very small in its initial stage and cannot move from its place and travel to some other tree to fetch its food. Thus a female butterfly pre-plans the needs and requirements of the baby caterpillars and hatches the eggs on those leaves which is eatable by their babies. Caterpillars have to eat a lot as it is the stage of the butterfly’s cycle in which they grow, and they have to expand to its maximum size in this particular stage. The caterpillars have their skin which is known as exoskeleton which does not have the capability of stretching and growing; it is the process of molting or basically the shedding of the skin by which the caterpillar sheds its outgrown skin several times and grows.

3. Third stage- Chrysalis or pupa

After becoming a caterpillar from an egg, next stage of a butterfly is the pupa stage. This stage of the butterfly lifecycle is also something outstanding that will make you wonder how does this process actually happens? Once the caterpillar has grown and taken its maximum size and weight, they transform themselves into a pupa also known as a chrysalis. If you take a look at the pupa stage of a butterfly, it will seem like a caterpillar that is resting, but this is not the reality. Actually, when the caterpillar reaches the pupa stage, it is trying to change and transform itself. Inside the pupa, a lot of changes takes place which is mandatory to transform into a grown up or adult butterfly. Caterpillars do not have wings to fly, but when they are in the chrysalis stage, their body parts face transformation which is also known as the metamorphosis stage. In the metamorphosis stage, the caterpillars get all the beautiful parts of being a butterfly. The wings, the limbs, other butterfly organs, all start developing in this stage to get a complete look of an adult butterfly.

4. Fourth stage: Adult butterfly

After a long wait of three stages finally comes the last stage where the caterpillar gets transformed into a pretty looking butterfly ready to spread its beautiful colours on the world. When the butterfly emerges out of the pupa, the wings are folded in an inward fashion towards their bodies and are very soft to touch, these wings gain their own shape after some time. If you see a butterfly coming out of a pupa, then you are surely a lucky person to witness such beautiful creations of God taking its entry into this world.  The softness of the wings is because it has been developed inside the pupa and thus are very soft but when the butterfly comes out of the pupa, it takes some resting time and then pumps blood to their wings. The pumping of blood to the wings gets the butterfly ready to make its first flight and garden and opens up their wings so that they can work and flap properly. They usually rest for a period of three to four hours and then opt for their first flight to open their eyes to a new world where there is a lot to explore. Once they start their flight, they search for their partners with whom they can mate and bring more such new butterflies into this world where one senses a pleasant feeling on seeing these tiny creatures. So this process continues, and once the butterflies find their mates, they reproduce and again starts the process of laying eggs. This process continues, and the same butterfly lifecycle is followed for all the species of butterflies.

How can you witness the sight of a butterfly transformation?

As mentioned earlier it is something of great luck if you happen to witness the transformation of a butterfly from its pupa. But nowadays with the expansion of science, you can witness the conversion of a butterfly. Butterfly kits are something that you can use to see the miracle happen right there in front of your eyes. Children use these butterfly kits for their science projects and have a fantastic experience to look at the butterflies escaping out in the open in front of their eyes.

10 Interesting facts about butterflies

You might have witnessed butterflies flying and hopping from one flower to another extracting the nectar but are you aware of all the facts of a butterfly? Now as we very well know about the whole lifecycle process of a butterfly now let us learn some interesting facts about these fascinating creatures.

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* Novice butterfly cannot fly at the initial stage

As soon as butterfly comes out of the pupa it is not a signal for them to hear ready, get set and fly. It is a myth they cannot fly as soon as they come out, they have to undergo a period of rest before they opt for their first flight. When they take their breath as a butterfly, their wings are folded inwards and firstly they need to pump blood into their wings so that it hardens and gets set. The butterflies need to dry up their bodies after they emerge out of the pupa and take proper rest for few hours before exploring the perplexing world waiting for them to be explored.

* Butterflies can only drink and not chew

We must all be aware that butterfly suck nectar from flowers and leaves and the fact is that they are only capable of sucking nectar and not eating anything. They can’t chew anything, and their mouthparts only have a capability of drinking using their proboscis. So these butterflies are always on a diet and very particular about their figure and only live up on a liquid diet.

* Butterflies use their feet and not their hands for tasting

The taste receptors of a butterfly are actually situated on their feet and not on their hands. Thus it is bound to taste their food and nectar using their feet. When a female butterfly sits on a flower, it drums up the leaves till juices are secreted from the plant. They do so to test the juice and thus deciding if the plant is suitable for laying eggs, as discussed earlier we now must be knowing that the female butterfly lays its eggs only on those leaves which can be consumed by its young ones. So this process of testing is done to determine if the plant is suitable to be fed by its baby caterpillars or not. As soon as she is satisfied that the plant is right to lay its eggs, then she lays its eggs and then starts the whole lifecycle process of a butterfly once again.

* Butterflies have transparent wings

Amazed, right? Yes, we understand that you might be thinking that these insects are always found in colourful hues, and their wings symbolises all the seven colours mixed up into a single platter then how come do they have transparent wings? Actually, the secret is that these butterflies have scales on their wings which are capable of reflecting light and thus reflects different colour hues. Below the scales lie a layer of chitin which is the actual constituent of protein that is present in the exoskeleton of a caterpillar or other insects. This chitin layer is so delicate and thin that you can easily see through them giving it a transparent approach. When a butterfly turns old, then it happens that these scales falls down from the wings and thus exposing the layers of chitin which is actually transparent in nature.

* Proboscis assembling - an essential task to be done 

When a butterfly emerges out of the pupa state, its mouth comes in two parts thus it is their first job to assemble their mouth part before they land into trouble. The butterflies have palpi that lie adjacent in line with their proboscis, the butterflies combine these two parts and form a single tube that is the proboscis. Once they have assembled its proboscis, then it tests it by furling it in and out checking its new body part.

* Cold temperature causes hindrance for butterflies to fly

Butterflies cannot regulate their body temperatures as they are termed as cold-blooded insects. Thus the outside temperature has a drastic effect on them and their ability to fly. The butterflies can fly when the temperature is about 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but if the temperature drops down to 55, then they face difficulty in flying. The butterflies are in search of sunlight as cold temperatures cause them to shiver and thus cannot fly in extremely cold conditions.

* Butterfly have a short life span

These insects have a very short butterfly life span and can only survive for a couple of weeks. As pretty and delicate they are in their built, the smaller lifespan they have to live. The only task that they accomplish during their lifetime is eating and mating so that they can bring more new and cute little butterflies on our planet. There are some exceptions such as monarch butterflies which can survive for about nine to ten months in comparison to other species of butterflies which die down soon.

* Butterflies have a short eyesight

These tiny insects are supposed to have near sightedness and cannot see long distance objects and obstacles. They have a good vision for a distance up to ten to twelve feet, but beyond this, they face problems and gets a vague and blurry eyesight. They can surely distinguish amongst a large number of colours but have short distance eyesight.

* Butterflies drink water too

As said before butterflies only remain on a liquid diet, we all must have made up our minds that they only love on nectar, but actually they also consume water from mud puddles. Sugar is not the only requirement that a butterfly needs, it also requires minerals and salts. Thus they drink water from mud puddles to satisfy their needs of such essential minerals and salts. Usually, the male butterflies need more of such minerals as it is vital for them for the formation of sperms. When they transfer their sperms into their female counterparts, then these minerals automatically gets transferred to the female bodies as well during the mating process.

* Butterflies are wise enough to save themselves from falling as prey

Everyone loves their life, and so does a butterfly. These tiny insects are smart enough to play up tricks to protect themselves from falling as a prey to other insects and animals. They try to use the camouflage hack to adhere to the surroundings and staying still so that the other insects cannot identify that a butterfly is there trying to save its life. They try to mimic like moths to save themselves from being caught and eaten up.

Butterflies are indeed a beautiful creation of God and bring pleasantness and elegance to this world by spreading their colours amongst humanity.

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