Metamorphosis: the substructure of butterfly life cycle


Newly emerged Butterfly (The butterfly was not harmed in any way)

 Butterflies are one of the most beautiful insects associated with the order lepidoptera which includes moths also.

They have a lot of cultural and scientific significance.Butterflies are the messenger of wealth and love.They are good pollinators and the reflection of light through their scales helped in the research of LED and Nanotechnology.

Life Cycle Of Butterfly

The life cycle of butterflies is completed through four stages.The main characteristic of their life cycle is complete metamorphosis. 

It's an Organic procedure which is basically the transformation from nymph to adult.Although their initial stage is called larva instead of Nymph.The stages of butterfly life cycle or Metamororphosis of Butterfly is discussed below.

 Eggs: balls containing life: 

Egg of common Palmfly

After mating adult female butterfly lays eggs on their larval host plants.They stick their eggs with the leaves with the help of biological glue.

Females are very choosy about the plants on which they would lay eggs.Every species has few particular LHP(Larval Host Plant).The eggs are of different colours and shapes.

The eggs of common mormon are yellow. Whereas the ones of common rose are red.

Shapes of the eggs can be different according to species like the eggs of eggs are round and the eggs of Tamil Yeoman are arranged in a lower like manner.

We can see the growth of larva inside the egg.Before hatching the eggs turns black then transparent.

Larva or Caterpillars: the eating machines:

Caterpillar of Common Palmfly

Few days after laying eggs young caterpillars hatch from eggs and first they eat their eggshell which provides them primary nutrition.

Then they start to eat the leaves of LHP.They are called eating machines because of their behaviour.Their only job is eating.

The just hatched larvas are called first instar caterpillars.When they grow their skin can't grow evenly.So they have to shed their skin many times.

This process is called Instar changing or simply moulting.Depending on the number of moulting process they go through,are called first,second,third and fourth instar caterpillar.

The caterpillars are mainly leaf eaters.There are few exceptions like the larva of Guava Blue eats the fruit of Guava and the Caterpillars of Apefly are carnivorous,they eat mealybugs.

Caterpillars use many self defence techniques like Osmeterium and camouflage.Most of them go though 5th instar before turning into a pupa.

Pupa or chrysalis:The transformation phase:

Pupa of Common Palmfly

"What the the caterpillar calls the end of the world,the master calls a Butterfly" - Richard Bach

After the last instar caterpillars turn into pupa.The pupas are like small oval boxes containing jelly like substance inside of it.

Inside the chrysalis the most magical transformation in nature takes place via many chemical changes.

Pupas can't move from one place to another.They can only take camouflage or shake themselves to avoid predators.Say for example the pupa of Common mine mimicks a broken twig.


Adult Stage

Fully Grown Common Palmfly (Male)

dult stage: 10-15 days after the formation of chrysalis, butterflies emerge from them.

The duration can be longer than six months depending on the weather.After emerging from the pupa, butterflies pump out hemolymph, develop their wings,dry them and take first flight of their small life span.

Their main job is to mate.The only thing the can't is they can't grow.Adult females lay eggs after mating.Thus the cycle get continued.


In this article I have discussed in details about the metamorphosis of butterfly or the stages of butterfly life cycle.Hope you like it.

There is a request from all nature lovers including me.I know all of you like butterflies but most of you don't like caterpillars.So you kill them with pesticides.

Please do not kill them.You can help in conservation of Nature through this simple commitment.

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