Don’t you love it when a magical moment of learning and discovery happens by surprise? Today, my girls and I stopped to watch some butterflies, but soon realized we were witnessing an incredible display of the butterfly life cycle!
We spotted a caterpillar crawling on the fence. This is the larva stage of its life. We saw another hanging upside down as it began to form itself into a pupa, also known as a chrysalis! As we followed the fence, we saw another caterpillar who was about halfway through becoming a chrysalis and next to it, a complete chrysalis! Inside of the pupa, the caterpillar is quickly changing. This transformation is known as a metamorphosis. Finally, we san empty pupal exoskeleton called an exuvia, which was left behind when the butterfly emerged and flew away, entering its adult stage. How did we know it was empty? The sunlight was shining through the translucent exuvia.
We couldn’t believe our luck! We got to see all stages of the life cycle except the eggs. We looked everywhere, but couldn’t find any. After a little research, we found that mother butterflies lay their eggs on a leaf that the young caterpillar eats after the egg hatches. Butterfly eggs can be tricky to spot, so you have to have more patience than we did to search for them. For today, it was enough to watch the wonder of nature unfold right in front of us. Maybe we’ll spot some eggs tomorrow!
Team GCM Creators: Kate & Lauren