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The Lifecycle of a Butterfly
Butterflies are one of the truly amazing features of nature.
Unlike other creatures, during its time from birth to death
a butterfly goes through four distinct states.
The rest of this article focuses on these four stages.
In the first stage of the lifecycle, a butterfly lays eggs. A female butterfly after having been fertilised by a male butterfly lays eggs on a leaf. These eggs are laid close together, and the eggs are really small and round. The butterfly lays many eggs as the caterpillars that will emerge from these eggs are food for birds and mammals. The eggs of each butterfly species vary in size, form and texture. The colour is the only thing which is nearly constant. All eggs are yellow or greenish. The eggs usually hatch within 3-5 days.
In the second stage, a caterpillar emerges from an egg. The caterpillar is hungry once it has hatched and it first eats the leaf that it was born on. A caterpillar grows really fast because it eats a lot. Most caterpillars are herbivores and only eat leaves. For many gardeners, caterpillars are a pest because they chew-off the most delicious vegetable leaves. A caterpillar grows so fast that it becomes too big for its skin. So, the caterpillar has to shed its old skin. Caterpillars shed their skin four or more times while they are growing. This development stage takes 3-4 weeks.
After eating sufficient leaves the caterpillar spins itself into a cocoon. Once inside this cocoon, the caterpillar is known as a pupa. The pupa stays inside the cocoon for up to a week, during which time it undergoes great changes. When the caterpillar comes back out of the cocoon it will no longer be recognizable as a caterpillar. The cocoon is inelastic and marginal-movable. Camouflage is the only protection of the pupa against enemies. This is achieved by making the cocoon seem like a natural part of the tree. This development stage is finished in about one week.
In the final stage, the cocoon opens and out comes a butterfly. Butterflies come in many shapes and sizes and many people think they look beautiful. The butterfly must mate and reproduce very quickly because often it only lives for one or two days after it emerges from the cocoon. In this development stage, the butterfly can only eat liquids, such as the nectar from flowers or juices from fruits. The lifespan of a butterfly can vary between one day and one year.