Caterpillar Life Cycle

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Caterpillar Life Cycle
Caterpillar Life Cycle (Image: http://morguefile.com/)

When we watch a butterfly take-off into the sky, we do not often think about the changes it has gone through, but every butterfly we see has undergone a complete metamorphosis during its fascinating four-stage life cycle .

First Stage

Each new butterfly begins life when an adult butterfly lays very small eggs on a leaf.

Second Stage

The eggs grow and eventually hatch into butterfly larva, which are commonly called caterpillars. As soon as the caterpillars have emerged from the eggs, they begin to eat leaves. As they eat and grow, the caterpillar will have to shed its skin numerous times before it becomes a full-size caterpillar.

Butterfly in larval stage
Butterfly in larval stage

Third Stage

After the caterpillar is completely mature, it turns itself into a pupa or chrysalis (sometimes called a caccoon). Inside this chrysalis the caterpillar begins to morph into a butterfly.

Butterfly in pupal stage
Butterfly in pupal stage

Fourth Stage

When the butterfly is fully formed it emerges from the chrysalis, and after a few hours it will begin flying.

Butterfly emerging from chrysalis
Butterfly emerging from chrysalis

Fun Fact

From the time they hatch until they turn into chrysalises, some caterpillars can increase their weight thousands of times.

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