Butterfly eggs can be round, flat or shaped like a barrel.
Many butterflies lay eggs on the underside of plant leaves that their babies like to eat. Other butterflies lay eggs in flowers or in the cracks of tree bark.
Choosing where to lay eggs is a critical decision because the offspring are very hungry when they are born, For example, the monarch butterfly lays eggs on milkweed plants. If the mother monarch lays her eggs elsewhere, the newborn caterpillars might starve. Laying eggs on the underside of leaves also protects the eggs from predators
Camouflage is the only defense for the tiny new egg. The butterfly often tries to match the color of her eggs to the surroundings. While better than nothing, this technique is rarely successful. Despite the mother’s best efforts, birds and other predators eat most of her eggs
Like other insects, caterpillars have a head, thorax and abdomen.
The head contains the eyes, antennae, jaws and teeth, which tear through leaves. Most butterfly eyes provide little detailed information because they don’t see that well. The caterpillar gets more information about the world from its antennae.
Many segments work together to help the caterpillar eat and move. The middle three segments of the caterpillar make up the thorax. Each segment in the thorax has a pair of real legs.
The rest of the segments make up the abdomen. Four pairs of fleshy prolegs extend from the abdomen. Suckers at the end of the prolegs help the caterpillar hold onto leaves. Unlike the legs attached to the thorax, these prolegs are not real legs. The stomach and other internal organs are found in the abdomen.
Different species of butterflies create different types of chrysalises. Some caterpillars make cocoons from silk threads. Others fold a leaf around themselves and make the sides of the leaf stick together with silk threads.
In the case of monarchs and many other types of butterfly, the caterpillar’s skin hardens and turns into a chrysalis. You might find chrysalises in your garden.
Regardless what type of chrysalis the caterpillar makes, this is where the pupa breaks down and transforms itself into a butterfly. The pupa undergoes a series of complex chemical reactions that make this change possible.
At certain points, the pupa is a soupy mix of enzymes and other chemicals that help rearrange the parts of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The entire process is called metamorphosis. Once metamorphosis is complete, the new butterfly must struggle to free itself from the chrysalis.
Butterflies are different from moths. While these two are similar, you can easily tell them apart. Unlike butterflies, which fly during the day, moths are most active at night.
Moths also rest with their wings open, and butterflies rest with their wings pressed together. Butterflies have long, thin bodies, and moths have thicker ones. Their antennae are also different.
These insects are very temperature sensitive. If the temperature gets too cold, they cannot fly. Some butterflies, like the monarch, migrate to warm places in the winter, just like birds. Such butterflies will make the trip only once. When migrating, thousands of monarchs come together and roost at the same locations used in previous years.