As part of butterfly month, I thought to myself that although I aguely remember my school days when we learnt about life cycles, I want to know more about the life of a butterfly.
Their life cycle is a very structured one consisting of four stages, each of which are totally different from the next, the butterfly taking a completely different form in each stage. It's quite magical!
The first stage is a tiny egg which are laid on leaves, they are little spots that can be oval or round depending on the type of butterfly that lay them. Sometimes you can see a really small caterpillar growing inside.
The egg grows until it finally hatches but not to it's butterfly form just yet, it comes out as a caterpillar! At this stage all the caterpillar does is eat, starting with his leaf of birth! The leaf the butterfly lays her egg on is very important, when the caterpillar hatches from the egg, it needs to be close to the food it likes as the caterpillar is a new born it cannot travel.
The caterpillar then gets bigger and bigger and starts to shed it skin four or more times, a little bit like a snake.
When the caterpillar is up to it's correct weight they turn into a chrysalis. Hanging from a tiny branch the caterpillar gradually turns into a chrysalis or pupa. This is where the caterpillar turns transforms itself, forming organs and limbs and wings!
The butterfly will slowly emerge from the pupa, its wings soft and folded. The butterfly will rest and slowly gain the energy to move blood around it's body to enable it to use it's wings and fly.
The adult female butterfly will then always be searching for new places to leave its eggs and so therefore the cycle will start over again. There are lots of factures to take into consideration when trying to find out how long a butterfly lives for, but alot of them can last just one month which is kind of sad. So enjoy them whilst you see them.