Spreading our wings
This summer, residents and staff at The Glen embarked on an exciting project.
We hatched three butterflies from cocoons and watched their metamorphosis. The cocoons transformed from caterpillar, to chrysalis, and eventually emerged as adult butterflies!
The residents had so much fun watching the changes over time, and seeing them spread their wings before launching them into the wild.
The butterfly life cycle consists of four stages and together they complete the metamorphosis (a Greek word that means transformation).
1. Egg: It all starts when an adult female butterfly lays eggs on a plant. A butterfly lays a lot of tiny eggs at once so that at least some survive to become caterpillars.
2. Caterpillar: The larva, known as the caterpillar, is the next stage in the life cycle of a butterfly (or a moth). The caterpillar eats and eats and as it grows it splits its skin and sheds it several times.
Caterpillars can grow 100 times their size during this stage.
3. Chrysalis: When the butterfly is fully grown it becomes a chrysalis, which you may find hanging under a branch, hidden in leaves, or even buried underground, depending on the species.
Inside the chrysalis big changes are happening, and the caterpillar grows legs, eyes, wings and other parts. Within a few weeks you have a fully grown
4. Adult Butterfly: The beautiful butterfly stops growing and can now use its colorful wings to fly. And while the caterpillar’s job was to eat, the adult butterfly’s job is to mate and lay eggs. Some butterflies may get energy by feeding on nectar from flowers and fly from place to place until they find the right plant to lay eggs. Most adult butterflies live only a couple of weeks.
Source: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.