Butterflies, Butterfly Pictures, Facts, and Information
Pictures and information for about 50 species of gorgeous butterflies from around the world, including cocoons and caterpillar stages. Featuring monarch, eastern tiger swallowtail, and owl butterflies. Perfect for identifying an unknown species of butterfly. Includes pictures of the different life stages.
The Life Cycle of Butterflies:
Stage 1- The Egg- All butterflies start out as an egg. The eggs of butterflies and moths vary in size, shape, and general appearance depending upon the species. Female butterflies lay an egg that was fertilized by a male butterfly and produce a special adhesive to stick their eggs to plants. Some species of butterfly will only attach their eggs to one kind of plant, while others are willing to stick their eggs to several varieties of plants. For most butterfly species, the egg stage only last a couple of weeks. However, there are some species that place eggs in the winter that won't hatch until spring.
Stage 2- The Caterpillar- The caterpillar stage is spent searching for food. As the caterpillar eats more and more, it grows very large and is forced to shed it's old skin and grow more. It's almost as though they're growing out of their clothes! For a butterfly, the cycle of outgrowing it's skin are called instars. Once a caterpillar is done growing, it starts looking for a place to begin it's next stage of life...
Stage 3- The Pupa- The caterpillar turns into a pupa by attaching itself to a leaf or twig with the same glue that was once used to attach the egg, and molting one last time. While in the pupa, the wings of the butterfly form and the caterpillar gradually transforms into a butterfly.
Stage 4- The Butterfly (imago)- The adult butterfly has six legs and four wings. The wings are covered in tiny little scales. After leaving the pupa, the butterfly must allow it's wings to dry. The process can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. During the drying of the wings, the butterflies are very vulnerable to predators.