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Butterfly Life Cycle

This interactive model illustrates the life cycle of a butterfly. Press "Run" button to initiate the animation. Press "Stop" to bring it to a halt, and press "Reset" to return the model to its initial state.

The development of a butterfly takes place along the lines of a full metamorphosis. When time comes, adult butterfly lays several hundred or even several thousand eggs, usually on a plant that will later serve as a food depot for the hatched caterpillars.

The caterpillars (larvae) intensively feed and grow, shedding their skin several times. As the colds approach, the caterpillars produce silk from their weaving glands, and weave chrysalis shells (cocoons) for themselves. The shape of the cocoon depends on the kind of the butterfly. For most butterfly species, almost the entire caterpillar ends up being covered with silk.

Butterflies spend winter in their chrysalis shells. When spring comes, butterflies climb out of the cocoons. Hemolymph enters the vessels in their wings, and, as the wings straighten out, the young butterflies become ready for flight.

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