1. The mother butterfly lays small eggs, normally
round, oval-shaped, or cylindrical, on the undersides
of leaves of a plant, adhering the eggs to the leaf
with a quickly-drying glue-like substance it secretes
while producing eggs. These leaves will become the
food source for the new caterpillars once they hatch.
2. After a few days, tiny worm-like larvae
called caterpillars hatch from the eggs, breaking
the egg by eating their way through it. Caterpillars
often have distinctive patterns, normally stripes
or similar linear designs, and may be covered in spiny
3. Upon birth, the caterpillar eats its eggshell
and the leaf on which it was hatched. The caterpillar
continues to eat voraciously until it is fully-grown,
and will molt, or shed its exoskeleton, which cannot
grow, several times as the caterpillar grows.
4. When the caterpillar is fully grown, it
attaches itself to a leaf or twig. Its skin then splits
as it does when it molts; however, instead of forming
another exoskeleton, it ensconces itself in a hard
case called a pupa or chrysalis. The chrysalis is
normally green or brown in color so that it can camouflage
into its surroundings.
5. Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar's
larval structures break down as the structures of
an adult butterfly are formed. During this process,
the insect is inactive. This process can take from
about two weeks to an entire season depending on the
species of butterfly.
6. When the butterfly is finished developing,
the chrysalis breaks open and the butterfly slowly
7. After briefly resting, the butterfly must
pump blood into their wings before they can fly. The
butterfly's wings must also dry before it can fly.
The butterfly will normally take a couple of hours
to become accustomed to flying, and will then seek
8. The butterfly will continue to look for
a mate for the rest of its life, doing little else,
except for feeding. The butterfly no longer eats leaves;
it instead uses a long, hollow, tongue-like appendage
called a proboscis, which functions similarly to a
straw, to drink nectar from the center of flowers.
9. The female butterfly will eventually find
a mate and lay its eggs, allowing its life cycle to
repeat. The female butterfly dies soon after laying
the eggs, typically not much longer than two weeks
after it emerges from its chrysalis.