The Life Cycle of the Butterfly by Catherine Carabott Metamorphosis
Phase 1:The Egg
After mating the female butterfly lays eggs on the underside of a leaf.
The eggs are about the size of a pinhead.
They can be round, oval or cylindrical.
They are usually white, cream or light green.
Phase 2:The Caterpillar
The tiny worm like insect hatches out of the egg.
It first eats the egg shell then turns to the surrounding leaves.
It eats enormously and grows to 100 times its original size.
The caterpillar has a head and 13 body segments.
3 real legs and 5 false legs (suckers)
The Caterpillar’s Body
Phase 3:The Pupa or Chrysalis
When it is time, it attaches itself upside down to a branch.
It changes colour and its body contracts.
It spins a girdle of silk round its middle for support.
It stops feeding, splits its skin for the last time to reveal the pupa.
Phase 4:The butterfly
When the changes are complete the case of the pupa splits.
The butterfly struggles out of the shell.
Its wings are small and soft at first.
When these harden, expand and dry the butterfly is ready to fly!
Click on the image to view the video. Click on the arrow or on the white space to go to the next slide.
Life Cycle of the Butterfly Click on the image to view the video. Click on the arrow or on the white space to go to the next slide.
The adult butterfly
The butterfly lives only for a few days or weeks.
The body of the butterfly is divided into 3: the head, thorax and the abdomen.
It has a pair of compound eyes and two long antennae which help it to smell and touch.
It has a long tube called the proboscis for sipping nectar.
The wings are covered by:
thousands of tiny scales arranged like tiles on a roof and
they have short stalks which fit into minute sockets on the wing.
These create wonderful colours and patterns which produce striking colourful effects.
Colour to recognise:
other butterflies of their own kinds
males from females butterflies
find a mate of their own species
Colour as a warning:
Some poisonous and bad-tasting butterflies use their bright colours to advertise they are not eatable
Colour as a camouflage:
To protect themselves from enemies by blending into the environment.
Colour as a mimicry device:
To imitate another insect which is dangerous so that they are avoided by their enemies
Different types of butterflies Queen Alexandras Birdwing The biggest butterfly The Dwarf Blue The smallest butterfly The Painted Lady A migrating species The Cabbage White butterfly The most common butterfly found in Malta.
Some Butterflies of the Maltese Islands Swallow Tail Farfett tal-Fej[el Plain Tiger Farfett ta’ Danaus
Some Butterflies of the Maltese Islands Pigmy Skipper Ba]ri Common Blue Farfett ta’ l-An[lu
Some Butterflies of the Maltese Islands Red Admiral Farfett tal-}urrieq Painted Lady Farfett tax-Xewk
A butterfly’s day …….
Butterflies are usually active only during the day.
They are cold-blooded, like reptiles.
They need to get their body heat
from the sun.
A butterfly’s day …….
They lie in the sun with their wings outstretched.
They cool themselves by finding shade.
They shelter under leaves in rain and at night.
How does a butterfly spend its day?
They seem to flutter around aimlessly in the sun however their main task is to search for food.
What kind of food?
Mainly nectar from flowers however some also feed on
Tree sap and
Their main objective is:
Friends and Enemies
They are our friends because:
they are very efficient flower pollinators.
Friends and Enemies
They are our enemies because:
hungry caterpillars devour garden and field vegetables.
Friends and Enemies Birds, spiders and wasps feed on caterpillars, pupae and eggs. Spiders also hunt butterflies. Butterflies also have their own enemies.
They stop to rest in trees in bad weather and at night.
The direction and strength of the wind determines where they end up.
Some butterflies migrate: they fly from one part of the world to another. Why?
Lack of food
Some cover remarkable distances.
Sometimes they arrive in enormous numbers and in other years only a few arrive.
Changes in the
The numbers of butterflies are sadly decreasing!
Why? Their habitat is threatened by man!
Deforestation : wild areas are being cleared and replanted with agricultural crops
Pollution : crops are sprayed with pesticides
Lack of specific food plants
A world without butterflies? So what can be done? We can protect them by: