Complete Metamorphosis Of A Butterfly
The metamorphosis of a butterfly has never ceased to enthrall and mesmerize entomologists and students alike. Young or old, people love to see a tiny little egg transforming into a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. Monarch, Queen Alexandria, Viceroy and Ulysses are just a few types of butterfly species found on planet Earth.
The life cycle of a butterfly can be broadly classified into four different stages. The first stage is the egg laying stage. The female will carefully choose a spot to lay her eggs on firm solid structures, safe from external threats. The mother butterfly will generally lay her eggs on leaves so that the caterpillar can munch on the leaves and grow. Milkweed plants are generally preferred.
It takes about a week for the eggs to hatch into the larva or caterpillar, which is the second stage of the butterfly’s metamorphosis. It is about 0.1 inch long and munches relentlessly on leaves. It becomes 2 inches long in 2 weeks. This caterpillar now has eight legs, undergoes molting (sheds its skin) 5 to 6 times and turns into a pupa.
This marks the beginning of the third stage of metamorphosis. Here the pupa sheds its 8 pairs of legs. A protective shell like a casing is formed. The adult butterfly’s body parts start appearing slowly. It takes about ten to fifteen days for the pupa to reach the adult stage.
In the fourth stage, the casing cracks. Small and wet wings emerge from the hard shell. Hemolymph is slowly pumpedinto the body. The wings become dry and sturdy. The butterfly is ready for take off!
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