Butterflies | Life Cycle, Classification, Species & Facts

Butterflies are considered by many to be the most beautiful and interesting insects. Many people view and collect butterflies as a hobby. One of the most striking features of butterflies are their colorful, bright wings with various patterns.

There are about 18,000 species of butterflies. They are found around the world and live in all types of habitats, including grasslands, forests, and arctic tundra.

What is Metamorphosis?

One of the most amazing things about this insect is the way it transitions from caterpillar to butterfly. This is called metamorphosis. The caterpillar first creates a cocoon, then locks itself inside the cocoon. Then, special chemicals are secreted to transform the caterpillar’s cells into the butterfly’s cells. This is one of nature’s most amazing events! Below we have provided all the different stages in a butterfly’s life.

Stages of Life of a Butterfly

The butterfly has a very interesting life cycle consisting of four stages:

Eggs – Butterflies are born from eggs. Eggs are attached to the leaves with a special glue. The butterfly egg stage usually lasts only a few weeks.

Larva or Caterpillar – When a butterfly egg hatches, a caterpillar emerges from it. Caterpillars are long, multi-legged insects that constitute the larval stage. They mainly eat plants.

Pupation – The third stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is called the pupa. The larva (the caterpillar) clings to something (usually the underside of a leaf). At this point, the caterpillar molts for the last time and turns into a full-fledged butterfly. When the butterfly emerges from the pupal stage, it cannot fly. It takes a while for the butterfly to spread its wings so that it can fly.

Adult or Imago – The final stage is a full-winged butterfly. The final stage of a butterfly’s life is generally thought to be very short. The lifespan of the terminal stage varies by species. Some butterflies have a short lifespan of about a week, while others live up to a year.

What does the Butterfly look like?

Adult butterflies have four wings covered with small scales that give them colorful and varied patterns. They have six legs, two antennae, a head, compound eyes, thorax and abdomen. They can smell the nectar in the air with their antennae. Butterflies also have pretty good eyesight.

What do Butterflies eat?

Butterflies play an important role in ecosystems as pollinators. Adults only feed on liquids such as pollen, juice, and tree sap, but they live mainly on nectar. They feed with a long tube with a straw-like pollen-absorbing blade.

Interesting Facts About Butterflies

Some butterflies migrate long distances. For example, monarch butterflies will migrate up to 2500 miles from Mexico to North America.

Their wings are very fragile. Do not touch them or you may damage their wings making them unable to fly.

Some butterflies can fly up to 40 miles per hour. They have excellent eyesight and can actually see colors in the ultraviolet range that we cannot see.

The largest butterfly is the Queen Alexandra butterfly which measures up to 11 inches in diameter.