Butterflies are one of the most beautiful and colourful creatures found in nature. Their brightly-coloured wings attract and fascinate kids and adults alike. The life cycle of butterflies is equally fascinating as their colourful wings. The butterfly life cycle is one of the earliest science lesson taught to young kids. By knowing about the butterfly life cycle, preschool kids can learn about the different stages a butterfly goes through to become so colourful. Later on, this butterfly life cycle for kindergarten lesson can make them understand the life cycle of other species and helps them in understanding the evolution of species.
What is Butterfly ‘Metamorphosis’?
Unlike humans who grow in the same manner, a butterfly transforms through stages its life cycle to look like the colourful butterfly we see around us. It looks different in all its stages and, therefore, it is called ‘transformation’ and not ‘growth’. Metamorphosis is the process of transformation through which a butterfly egg transforms to become an adult butterfly. The butterfly starts from an egg and grows into something completely different through a series of four life stages. The four life stages during this transformation or metamorphosis are – egg, larva, pupa and adult butterfly. At every stage, the butterfly looks different and has a different goal to fulfil.
Stages of a Butterfly’s Metamorphosis
The different stages of a butterfly’s metamorphosis are:
1. First Stage of the Life Cycle of a Butterfly
The first stage of the life cycle of a butterfly is that of an egg. After the male butterfly has fertilised the egg, the female butterfly deposits the eggs on the plant’s stems or leaves. In these eggs, the caterpillars grow. Different species of butterflies lay different types of eggs that vary in shape, sizes and texture. The eggs can be oval, round or cylindrical in shape and smooth, wrinkled or bumpy in texture. Depending on the butterfly species, the time for the egg to hatch also varies. For some species, the eggs take a few days or weeks to hatch and in others, they hatch when the weather is warm.
2. Second Stage of the Life Cycle of a Butterfly
The second stage of the life cycle of a butterfly starts when the egg hatches and the larva or caterpillar leaves the egg and comes out. This second stage lasts for several weeks and during, this time, the larva is just eating leaves, plants or insects and sleeping. The larva or caterpillar in the caterpillar life cycle sheds its skin four to five times. The reason is, as the caterpillar keeps eating, it grows and its skin becomes tight and splits open. New and larger skin is revealed from within. A full-grown caterpillar is more than 100 times larger than a newborn caterpillar.
3. Third Stage of the Butterfly Life Cycle
The third stage of the butterfly life cycle is the pupa. The fully grown caterpillar surrounds itself into a cocoon called pupa or chrysalis. Chrysalis is a form of the vessel in which the caterpillar changes into a butterfly. The larva seeks a hidden or safe place when they turn into a pupa or for pupation. The pupa stage lasts for a few weeks to months, depending on different species of butterfly. A hard shell or case is formed around the pupa during this time to save it from outside weather, predators or any other danger. Inside the pupa, the caterpillar forms tissues, limbs, organs and wings to transform into a wonderful butterfly.
4. Final Stage of the Butterfly Life Cycle
The fourth and final stage of the butterfly life cycle is when the adult butterfly finally emerges from the cocoon or pupa. The pupa splits open once the butterfly is fully grown. Though the butterfly has developed its wings, it still can’t fly as soon as it emerges from the pupa. Its wings are soft, wet, wrinkled and sticking to its body. The butterfly has to wait for hours or days for its wings to dry and them to become strong. Once they are big and strong enough to fly, the beautiful butterfly takes off and flies in search of flowers to feed on or other butterflies.
Butterflies are always fascinating and so is learning about their life cycle. Learning the butterfly life cycle helps kids understand how a species or creature grows from an egg to the adult stage. This early science lesson gives them a basic understanding of evolution. Also, the butterfly lifecycle is a series of terrific transformations and an inspiration for everyone.