Life Cycle of a Butterfly Essay


Lifecycle refers to the stages of growth and development of a living thing. All living things go through different stages of development throughout their lives. Change in actions and behaviors are deeply associated with the changes in the stages of life. Butterfly is such an insect, which has a complete lifecycle consisting of four separate stages. In this paper, we will discuss the lifecycle of a butterfly in order to get an understanding of all stages of growth and development of a butterfly.

Stages of Development

A butterfly’s growth and development process is known as metamorphosis. There are four stages of development in the life of a butterfly. Each stage is unique and represents a different life structure of a butterfly. The four stages of development that a butterfly goes through include Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult butterfly.

Egg is the very first stage of a butterfly’s life. A female butterfly lays 10 to 100 tiny eggs at a time on the leaves of the plants.

Butterflies select the leaves for eggs based on the food choice of the caterpillars. A butterfly lays her eggs only on the leave, which caterpillars like to eat. Each type of butterfly has a different choice of leaves, which it uses to lay down the eggs. “The food source needed in a butterfly habitat varies among species” (Barrett, 2011). It takes nearly five to ten days for a caterpillar to emerge from an egg.

The second stage of a butterfly’s lifecycle is one in which an egg hatches into a caterpillar. A butterfly, in the form of a larva or a caterpillar, eats the maximum amount of food in this stage. The stage of caterpillar is the primary growth stage of a butterfly. A caterpillar is a work-like form of butterfly with a pattern of beautiful stripes on its skin. Caterpillars have just one aim, which is to eat more and more food. It even eats the shell of the egg from which it comes out. “The caterpillar hatches from the egg and usually the first thing it does is eat the egg shell” (Ballard, 2009).

There is no specific food, which a caterpillar eats. Different types of caterpillars eat different kinds of food. Each species of butterfly has a specific family of host plants from which caterpillars take their food (Ballard, 2009). Some caterpillars like to eat fresh leaves whereas some types of caterpillars prefer old leaves. There is a species of caterpillars known as Harvester butterfly’s caterpillars. Harvester caterpillars like to eat aphids that are present on different kinds of plants. The Harvester butterflies lay their eggs near aphid colony in order to provide a good amount of food to their caterpillars. This stage of a butterfly’s lifecycle lasts for two to five weeks depending on the living conditions and type of the caterpillar.

Pupa is the third stage of a butterfly’s lifecycle. In this stage of life, the butterfly in the form of a pupa, hangs itself in an upside-down position to a twig. Another change, which occurs in this stage, is the growth of a tough flexible shell outside the body of the pupa. The structures of a caterpillar are deformed and a new adult butterfly’s structure is formed. This stage is also known as the resting stage of butterfly’s life. The habit of continuous eating goes away in this stage. A pupa appears to be dead but inside the shell, the process of transformation continues. “It is generally incapable of movement but is able to move certain body parts” (Kumar, 2011). This stage of a butterfly’s lifecycle lasts for one to two weeks.

Adult butterfly is the last stage of a butterfly’s life. In this stage, a fully developed adult butterfly comes out of the shell. The head, thorax, legs, swollen abdomen, and wings come out of the shell one by one. A butterfly rests for a while in order to let its structures become dry and hard. Once the structures of a newly emerged butterfly become hard, it becomes ready to fly. A butterfly usually lives for two to three weeks. However, there exist some types of butterfly, which can live for months.


Summing it up, all living things go through different stages of development, which represent their lifecycles. A butterfly has four stages of life, which include egg stage, caterpillar stage, pupa stage, and the adult butterfly stage. A butterfly shows different nature and habits in each stage of life. An adult butterfly represents the last stage of a butterfly’s lifecycle in which a butterfly becomes ready to fly.


Ballard, K. (2009). Butterfly Life Cycle – The Caterpillar. Retrieved from—The-Caterpillar&id=2005048

Ballard, K. (2009). What Do Caterpillars Eat?. Retrieved from

Barrett, M. (2011). What Is in a Butterfly’s Habitat?. Retrieved from

Kumar, M. (2011). Things To Know About Butterfly Life Cycle. Retrieved from

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