The Metamorphosis of Butterflies

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Image: Processional Arts Workshop

There are few insects that fascinate us like butterflies. In their filigree moth or butterfly stage, they are often breathtakingly beautiful. As caterpillars, they can be cute, but also cause devastation if in huge numbers. Humans, too, have a secret desire to metamorphose…

But first, the facts. According to the student edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, metamorphosis is “a series of dramatic changes in an organism’s body shape and structure as it develops after hatching or being born.” The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly is just one example of a metamorphosis that occurs in thousands of insect species and amphibians.


Image: Student Britannica

As this diagram of the butterfly lifecycle shows, the complete metamorphosis of butterflies and moths involves four stages: 1. the egg, 2. the larva (caterpillar), 3. the pupa (also called chrysalis or cocoon) and 4. the adult.

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Image: ouf-ouf

A very neat butterfly or moth in Chaddlewood, Plymouth, worked on this eggsellent piece of art:

Each moth or butterfly female lays around 100 eggs, of which 80% will hatch, and this takes about three days. We’ve all seen tiny, whitish butterfly or moth eggs at the underside of leaves.

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