Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Butterfly Life Cycle

Butterfly Life Cycle - Facinating creatures these........

Butterfly Life Cycle

The life cycle of a butterfly has four stages, From Egg - Larva or Caterpillar - Pupa or Chrysalis - Adult Butterfly and is said to have a complete life cycle or metamorphosis.

Characteristically, butterflies undergo major developmental changes during their growth. For example, the butterfly lays eggs which hatch into creeping forms with chewing mouth parts. These are called caterpillars or larvae. Incidentally, the word caterpillar is derived from two latin words, catta pilosa, meaning ‘hairy car’ which is quite descriptive of some kinds. But butterfly larvae are not hairy. During this stage, the butterfly feeds and grows. As a matter of fact, it is only during the larval stage, that actual growth occurs, and a caterpillar’s only aim in life is to feed and store up food. As it increases in size, however, the number of cells in the body does not increase; they merely become larger. When full grown, the caterpillar sheds its skin and transforms into a pupa. This is called chrysalis in the case of butterfly. When this transformation occurs, the larval cells begin to die and clusters of adult cells, which have so far been quiescent, are stimulated into growth by hormones or chemical regulators secreted by glands in the head and thorax.

During the pupal stage, the larval tissues are torn down and slowly rebuilt into organs more fitted for aerial life. When the chrysalis is mature, the wings and legs of the future butterfly can be seen through its transparent skin. The developed butterfly crawls out by splitting open the chrysalis. At first, its wings are mere fluid filled sacs, but these rapidly expand and harden, and the adult winged butterfly is then ready for flight. It no longer has mouth parts fitted fro chewing leaves; they are now tube like and are used only for siphoning nectar from flowers. There is no growth during the adult stage.

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