A Butterfly is Born

A baby butterfly goes through a lot of different stages before it’s fully grown. This incredible change from tiny egg to fluttering butterfly is called metamorphosis.

Egg

A butterfly lays 200 to 500 eggs on a plant. Some butterflies lay eggs under leaves. Others lay them on top. Different butterflies lay eggs of different shapes.

Boy, if I were a butterfly, I’d have hundreds of brothers and sisters!

Caterpillar

About 5 days later, tiny caterpillars hatch. Different butterflies have different kinds of caterpillars, but every caterpillar is an eating machine! First it eats its eggshell, then it chomps on plants. It gets bigger, but its skin doesn’t grow with it. So the caterpillar sheds its skin and grows a roomier one several times over the next few weeks.

Chrysalis

Finally, the caterpillar stops eating. Now it latches onto a plant. Its new skin hardens to form a tough covering called a chrysalis that keeps the caterpillar safe during the change to come. Inside, wings and antennae form. The caterpillar is turning into a . . .

Butterfly

In about 14 days, a butterfly breaks out of the chrysalis. It waits for its wet wings to dry and harden. Finally, it can fly!