The butterfly life cycle consists of four different life stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult or imago. The differences between those life stages are incredible!

Butterfly life cycle stage 1: Egg

All butterflies are oviparous. Depending on the species, butterflies can lay a few hundred to many thousands eggs. The shape of the eggs vary widely. The surface of the egg can be smooth or it can have pits and grooves. A female butterfly mostly lays her eggs on leaves or twigs. Depending on the temperature, the embryo develops in 1-3 weeks to a caterpillar. The color of the egg becomes darker as it matures.


Butterfly life cycle stage 2: Caterpillar

As soon as the embryo has developed into a caterpillar, it eats his way out of the egg. On the outside, the caterpillar mostly eats leaves and plants. While the caterpillars pass from the egg stage to the pupal stage, they typically shed their skin and molt several times.



Butterfly life cycle stage 3: Pupa

During the caterpillar stage, butterflies can travel long distances in search of an ideal place to pupate. The insect undergoes lots of changes during this stage. Although on the outside, there is almost no physical activity. Depending on species and temperature, the pupal stage may last from a few weeks to several months.



Butterfly life cycle stage 4: Adult

The adult stage is the most known stage. The butterfly has its typical appearance: a hairy caterpillar-like body with jointed legs and usually relatively large wings. There are butterfly species that overwinter as adult and they can potentially live up to eight months. But most of the butterflies generally last only a few weeks.