There are four stages to the life cycle of a butterfly; egg, caterpillar (larva), chrysalis (pupa) & adult. Each stage of the life cycle has a different goal. The life cycle of a butterfly may take anywhere from one month up to a whole year depending on the type of butterfly.
1st Stage - Egg The start of a butterflies life is as a very small egg. Some eggs are oval shaped, some are round, some have other features. The shape of the egg and the other features it might have depend on what type of butterfly laid it. Inside the egg a small caterpillar is forming. Butterflies usually lay their eggs on the leaves of plants that the caterpillar will eat when it emerges from the egg. These plants are called Host Plants. The eggs are very tiny and it generally takes some investigating to spot them.
2nd Stage - Caterpillar also known as Larva Once the egg hatches a caterpillar emerges and begins eating. The caterpillars goal is to eat. Each caterpillar prefers certain types of plants to eat so it is very important that the adult butterfly lay it's eggs on the type plant that the caterpillar eats. The caterpillar will eat and eat and eat, growing bigger as it consumes more food. A caterpillar may shed it's skin (exoskeleton) several times while it is growing. This process is known as molting.
3rd Stage - Chrysalis also known as Pupa Once a caterpillar has finished growing they form themselves into what is known as a chrysalis. The caterpillar attaches itself to the underside of a leaf or branch and at first appears as if it is resting. The chrysalis is like a changing room where the caterpillar transitions into a butterfly. Inside the chrysalis the caterpillar is going through and this process is known as metamorphosis.
4th Stage - Adult Butterfly Once the caterpillar has finished transforming inside the chrysalis an adult butterfly will emerge. When a butterfly first emerges both its wings are folded and against its body and are soft. The butterfly will start pumping blood into its wings to be able to begin flapping them. The goal of the adult butterfly is to find a mate and to reproduce starting the life cycle over again.
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