One of the insects that have captured human interest and wide spread liking is Butterfly… beautiful, vivacious, and carefree, this colorful insects, hailing from the Lepidoptera order is a highly loved one. Their bright hues and fluttering flight makes them an easy favourite. Their life cycle is also a much talked about and a very interesting phenomenon. It can be divided into clear stages.
Butterflies can have more than a single brood during a year. The eggs are covered by a protective outer ridge called Chorion. It is lined with a wax-coating that saves the eggs from getting dry before the larva develops. The tunnel shaped opening that each egg has at its very end is called micropyles, which is the entry gate for sperms to enter and fertilize. The eggs are either oval or spherical in shape. After they are laid, these eggs remain firmly fixed to the leaves because of glue that only hardens with time. Each category of butterfly seem to have a special liking to a particular category of plant and they select a host plant, i-e, the plant that is used for laying eggs according to this. Normally eggs hatch in about a few weeks time.
The butterfly caterpillars feed on plant leaves and are voracious eaters, they spend nearly all of their time looking for food. The stages that a caterpillar covers while growing are referred to as instars. After each instar it undergoes some form of physical transformation. This process is called apolysis, whereby the old cuticle is molded and a new form expands which hardens quickly and grows pigmentation. In the last instar the butterfly wings are started to form. Butterfly caterpillars possess six pair of pro legs and three pairs of legs.
Stage 3- Pupa
After the larva has fully grown, PTTH hormones are released and the caterpillars stop wandering in search of food and anchor itself to transform into a chrysalis or pupa. It is generally incapable of movement but is able to move certain body parts like abdomen and emit sounds to scare off predators. Slowly this pupa undergoes rapid mitosis by absorbing huge deal of nutrition and metamorphosis occurs. It grows wings and changes into a complete adult butterfly in few days.
Stage 4-Adult or Imago
After emerging from the pupal stage also the butterfly cannot fly immediately, the reason behind this is the fact that its wings remain folded initially and it can fly only when they are unfolded. They also have to let the wings dry, and sometimes the excess dye drips.
Witnessing the wonder called Metamorphosis
It can be a fascinating experience to watch the miracle with your own eyes and at the convenience of your own house. Especially for kids, it would be a treat that they will enjoy and gain educational knowledge as well. Get a live butterfly kit, whereby you can watch the caterpillars grow into pupa and later on into dazzling live butterflies. After observing the beauties for few days you can let them out in your garden.