Butterflies are a unique insect because they have a life cycle that comes in four distinct stages. Each of these stages has a drastically different appearance. These four stages are the egg stage, the larva stage, the pupa stage and finally the fourth stage, where the butterfly finally appears. This cycle is called the butterfly metamorphosis and is both beautiful and astonishing.
During the first stage, the butterfly starts out as an egg. The egg is very small and either cylindrical or a perfect circle. For some butterflies, you can even see the tiny caterpillar growing inside the egg. These eggs are usually found on leaves. Patience is required in order to find them because they are small.
The second stage comes after the egg hatches. From the egg comes a caterpillar, which is a butterfly larvae. During this stage, all the caterpillar does is eat. They start as soon as they are born and eat the leaf that they were born on. Different caterpillars like different flavors of leaf, so the mother lays the eggs on the caterpillars favorite flavor of leaf. The caterpillar starts small, but grows quickly as it is eating. The caterpillar also sheds its skin many times as it grows because its outside shell, called an exoskeleton, does not grow with it.
The third stage is called the pupa stage. Once the caterpillar is all grown up, it starts to form a chrysalis, which is a type of cocoon. Inside the chrysalis, there is a lot of change going on, but on the outside, it looks still. The old parts that made up the caterpillar are melting away and changing to form the parts that make up the butterfly.
In the final stage, all the change is done. The caterpillar has finishing transforming through metamorphosis inside the pupa and will now come out of the chrysalis. When the butterfly first comes out, the wings will be tenderly folded closed. It will stay like that for a little while so that it can rest from all the work of coming out of the chrysalis. Then, over three to four hours, the butterfly will flap its wings until they are properly working. It will then fly around and look to make an egg of its own!