Life Cycle Of Butterflies

Madison Roush(:

Life Cycle Of Butterfly's

Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. The number of generations per year varies fromtemperate to tropical regions with tropical regions showing a trend towards multivoltinism.


Egg of Ariadne merione

Butterfly eggs are protected by a hard-ridged outer layer of shell, called the chorion. This is lined with a thin coating of wax which prevents the egg from drying out before the larva has had time to fully develop. Each egg contains a number of tiny funnel-shaped openings at one end, called micropyles; the purpose of these holes is to allow sperm to enter and fertilize the egg. Butterfly and moth eggs vary greatly in size between species, but they are all either spherical or ovate.[citation needed]

Butterfly eggs are fixed to a leaf with a special glue which hardens rapidly. As it hardens it contracts, deforming the shape of the egg. This glue is easily seen surrounding the base of every egg forming a meniscus. The nature of the glue is unknown and is a suitable subject for research. The same glue is produced by a pupa to secure the setae of the cremaster. This glue is so hard that the silk pad, to which the setae are glued, cannot be separated.[citation needed]

Eggs are almost invariably laid on plants. Each species of butterfly has its own hostplant range and while some species of butterfly are restricted to just one species of plant, others use a range of plant species, often including members of a common family.[citation needed]

The egg stage lasts a few weeks in most butterflies but eggs laid close to winter, especially in temperate regions, go through a diapause(resting) stage, and the hatching may take place only in spring. Other butterflies may lay their eggs in the spring and have them hatch in the summer. These butterflies are usually northern species, such as the Mourning Cloak (Camberwell Beauty) and the Large and SmallTortoiseshell butterflies.[citation needed]


Caterpillars of Junonia coenia.

Butterfly larvae, or caterpillars, consume plant leaves and spend practically all of their time in search of food. Although most caterpillars are herbivorous, a few species such as Spalgis epius and Liphyra brassolis are entomophagous (insect eating).

Some larvae, especially those of the Lycaenidae, form mutual associations with ants. They communicate with the ants using vibrations that are transmitted through the substrate as well as using chemical signals.[5][6] The ants provide some degree of protection to these larvae and they in turn gather honeydew secretions.

Caterpillars mature through a series of stages called instars. Near the end of each instar, the larva undergoes a process called apolysis, in which the cuticle, a tough outer layer made of a mixture of chitin and specialized proteins, is released from the softer epidermis beneath, and the epidermis begins to form a new cuticle beneath. At the end of each instar, the larvamoults the old cuticle, and the new cuticle expands, before rapidly hardening and developing pigment. Development of butterfly wing patterns begins by the last larval instar.

Butterfly caterpillars have three pairs of true legs from the thoracic segments and up to 6 pairs of prolegs arising from the abdominal segments. These prolegs have rings of tiny hooks called crochets that help them grip the substrate.[7]

Some caterpillars have the ability to inflate parts of their head to appear snake-like. Many have false eye-spots to enhance this effect. Some caterpillars have special structures called osmeteria which are everted to produce foul-smelling chemicals. These are used in defense.

Host plants often have toxic substances in them and caterpillars are able to sequester these substances and retain them into the adult stage. This makes them unpalatable to birds and other predators. Such unpalatibility is advertised using bright red, orange, black or white warning colours, a practice known as aposematism. The toxic chemicals in plants are often evolved specifically to prevent them from being eaten by insects. Insects in turn develop countermeasures or make use of these toxins for their own survival. This "arms race" has led to the coevolution of insects and their host plants.[8]

Wing development

Last instar wing disk, Junonia coenia

Detail of a butterfly wing

Wings or wing pads are not visible on the outside of the larva, but when larvae are dissected, tiny developing wing disks can be found on the second and third thoracic segments, in place of the spiracles that are apparent on abdominal segments. Wing disks develop in association with a trachea that runs along the base of the wing, and are surrounded by a thin peripodial membrane, which is linked to the outer epidermis of the larva by a tiny duct.

Wing disks are very small until the last larval instar, when they increase dramatically in size, are invaded by branching tracheae from the wing base that precede the formation of the wing veins, and begin to develop patterns associated with several landmarks of the wing.

Near pupation, the wings are forced outside the epidermis under pressure from the hemolymph, and although they are initially quite flexible and fragile, by the time the pupa breaks free of the larval cuticle they have adhered tightly to the outer cuticle of the pupa (in obtect pupae). Within hours, the wings form a cuticle so hard and well-joined to the body that pupae can be picked up and handled without damage to the wings.[citation needed]


Chrysalis of Gulf Fritillary

When the larva is fully grown, hormones such as prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH) are produced. At this point the larva stops feeding and begins "wandering" in the quest of a suitable pupation site, often the underside of a leaf.

The larva transforms into a pupa (or chrysalis) by anchoring itself to a substrate and moulting for the last time. The chrysalis is usually incapable of movement, although some species can rapidly move the abdominal segments or produce sounds to scare potential predators.

The pupal transformation into a butterfly through metamorphosis has held great appeal to mankind. To transform from the miniature wings visible on the outside of the pupa into large structures usable for flight, the pupal wings undergo rapid mitosis and absorb a great deal of nutrients. If one wing is surgically removed early on, the other three will grow to a larger size. In the pupa, the wing forms a structure that becomes compressed from top to bottom and pleated from proximal to distal ends as it grows, so that it can rapidly be unfolded to its full adult size. Several boundaries seen in the adult color pattern are marked by changes in the expression of particular transcription factors in the early pupa.[citation needed]

Adult or imago

The adult, sexually mature, stage of the insect is known as the imago. As Lepidoptera, butterflies have four wings that are covered with tiny scales (see photo). The fore and hindwings are not hooked together, permitting a more graceful flight. An adult butterfly has six legs, but in the nymphalids, the first pair is reduced. After it emerges from its pupal stage, a butterfly cannot fly until the wings are unfolded. A newly emerged butterfly needs to spend some time inflating its wings with hemolymph and let them dry, during which time it is extremely vulnerable to predators. Some butterflies' wings may take up to three hours to dry while others take about one hour. Most butterflies and moths will excrete excess dye after hatching. This fluid may be white, red, orange, or in rare cases, blue.[citation needed]


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1.What is the main idea of "The Life Cycle Of Butterflies"?

2.How would you compare and contrast this article?

3.How can you describe this article?

4.Elaborate on this article?

5.What did the author say about this article?

6.Discuss the pros and cons?

7.How would you explain this article?

8.What do you think about this article? could it be changed?

10.What is the problem with this article?

11.What choice would you have made on this article?

12.What is your own opinion of this article?

13.What is the most important thing on this article?

14.What would you suggest on this subject?


1.About how Butterflies are born and the cycle of their life.

2.To compare and contrast this article I would have to say I like butterflies better when there butterflies,not caterpillars.

3.To describe this article it's about how caterpillars turn into Butterflies in just amount of days.

4.Butterflies are not Moths. They are a caterpillar and then turn into butterflies.

5.The Author said many things on this article about beautiful butterflies and caterpillars and how they transform.

6.Pros and Cons on Butterflies, they aren't beautiful when they are caterpillars but when they turn into butterflies they get there colors and look amazing.

7.I would explain this article on how they were eggs, how they turned into caterpillars, the wing development, the pupa, and how they are an adult or an imago.

8.I think that this article is very helpful to the people who want to learn about butterflies and the process that they go through.

9.This article can be changed by explaining it a different way.

10.This article has no problems, it gives you the exact information you need to know, and it's very interesting. choice on this article would be a yes to all the people who wants to learn about butterflies.

12.My own opinion on this article is that it has a lot of info you can use, and it is very weird how a caterpillar can turn into a butterfly.

13.The most important thing on this article would be the cycle of a butterfly.

14.I suggest that more people should learn about butterflies because they are very unique and fragile and not many people like to learn about bugs. So I think that everyone should learn about butterflies, and how they are made.