|Anatomy & Physiology|
Life Cycle of the Butterfly
Butterflies pass through four
distinct stages during their life cycle.
The change in appearance between the seemingly different forms during the cycle is so great and remarkable
it is difficult to believe that one can develop (metamorphose) into the other.
Yet during the life cycle of the butterfly the egg (ovum) develops into a
caterpillar (larva) which
in turn becomes a pupa (chrysalis) from which subsequently emerges a butterfly (imago).
These series of changes are collectively called metamorphosis.
Two Types of Metamorphosis Typical of Insects
Incomplete (Gradual) metamorphosis:
The EGG develops into a NYMPH (larva) which resembles the adult although it
lacks wings and may be
of different colour to the adult.
It sheds its skin (moults) several times during the larval stage, to
accommodate growth, until it becomes a
mature ADULT INSECT. There is no pupal stage.
Between each moult the insect is called an
instar and the number of
times an insect moults varies with each
species, four or five times is not unusual.
The larva and adult usually occupy similar habitats and often feed on similar hosts.
of insects who undergo Incomplete Metamorphosis
Complete Metamorphosis consists of four distinct stages in development
The EGG develops into a
During the larval stage the
LARVA moults several times to accommodate growth, producing several
When the larva is mature it
moults for the last time and instead of another larval skin it emerges
from it's old skin into a thicker stronger pupal skin to become a PUPA.
Finally the BUTTERFLY emerges at the end of the pupal stage.
The immature of these species do not resemble the adult. They may occupy different habitats and feed on different hosts.
of insects who undergo Complete Metamorphosis