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The different stages of a butterflys life cycle

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Between 15,000 and 20,000 different species of butterfly Taste Receptor Type Butterflies are insects Egg size and shape vary between species but they are usually covered in a protective layer of wax, called chorion, to prevent exposure to the outside world.

The eggs usually hatch within a few weeks unless it is laid in the winter time, which will result in a resting phase and then the egg will hatch in spring. Once the caterpillars are hatched, they spend their time searching for and consuming food. As the caterpillar continues to eat and grow, it will eventually get to a point where certain hormones, like the prothoracicotropic hormoneare produced to initiate the next stage of development: Flickr The Chrysalis Stage To begin the chrysalis stage, a caterpillar will find a safe spot on a leaf and attach itself to it using some silk.

  • Eggs can be laid from spring, summer or fall;
  • The wings of a butterfly are transparent;
  • The Transition Stage When the caterpillar is full grown and stops eating, it becomes a pupa.

It will then molt for the last time, which causes it to shed its outer layer and reveal the chrysalis underneath. Now some caterpillars will spin a cocoon of silk to cover the chrysalis, but most caterpillars just have the exposed chrysalis. They are generally brown colors to blend into the environment and hide from any potential predators, but there are some more colorful kinds. Once the caterpillar is within the chrysalis, the process towards becoming a beautiful butterfly can finish.

The caterpillar releases enzymes that digest all of its tissues except for imaginal disks. Imaginal disks are specialized sacs of cells that are present in the butterfly since its time as an egg. The imaginal disks are made with the purpose of becoming the different parts of the butterfly in the adult stage.

In most species, they stay inactive until this chrysalis stage, but there are a few species in which they slowly activate and develop in the caterpillar stage. Nonetheless, they are fully expressed and activated in the chrysalis stage. The liquidized body of the caterpillar feeds the imaginal disks and they slowly develop into the wings and the many different body parts of the butterfly.

There are some species that keep their nervous system intact throughout this process and possibly carry over knowledge from their previous stages into adulthood. The chrysalis stages last about a few weeks, though some species can last months to years, and once the butterfly is fully grown it releases an enzyme to break down the chrysalis and frees itself.

Once it is freed, it must wait for its wings to dry before it can go off and begin its adult stage. There are many insects and other organisms that undergo metamorphosis like the butterfly. Moths go through a similar cycle and pupa phase as the butterfly. Flies move from eggs to larval stage, maggots, and finally to a pupa stage that transforms it into an adult fly.

Life Cycle Of A Butterfly: Stages Of Life

Frogs do it as they move from tadpole to adult. Many insects undergo an incomplete metamorphosis where the adult stage looks like the larval stage but more mature and larger.

  • Butterflies, moths, beetles, flies and bees have complete metamorphosis;
  • Complete vs incomplete metamorphosis.

There are even fish species that undergo metamorphosis. Its prominence throughout the insect world and many other species speak to how successful of a strategy it is for survival.

  • Females lay a lot of eggs at once so that at least some of them survive;
  • While some species binge and blow up in just a few weeks, others take longer to develop.

Complete vs incomplete metamorphosis. Image from Wikipedia Scientists estimate that metamorphosis appeared around 280 to 300 million years ago based on existing fossil records and insect biological and developmental data.

The working theory is that a mutation or series of mutations occurred that resulted in early forms of metamorphosis because previously insects did not undergo this process. It became successful because the larval stages did not have to compete with the adult stages for the same resources as they had their own specific needs for continued development and reproduction.

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This diversification of resources allowed populations to grow larger and pass on their genes to future generations, which survived longer because there were more of them. Scientists are not completely sure of the development of this process and more time and improvement to genetic technologies would be needed to paint a more accurate picture of the evolution of metamorphosis. Regardless, it is a very successful process that has allowed the continued existence of these wonderful and amazingly beautiful creatures.