Free Worksheets, Lessons, Quizzes

Life Cycle of a Butterfly

What is ‘Metamorphosis’?

Life cycle of a butterfly consists of  four main stages. This means a butterfly goes through four stages of growth from egg to adulthood. This type of a process is known as Metamorphosis.

life cycle of a butterfly



First stage of life cycle of a butterfly


A female butterfly lays eggs

A butterfly starts its life as an egg, laid by a female adult butterfly after mating. Butterfly eggs vary in size and shape, but most are surrounded by a protective hard shell.


life cycle of a butterfly stage butterfly eggs

Example of butterfly eggs

Second stage of life cycle of a butterfly


Caterpillar hatches

A caterpillar develops within the egg and then eats its way out of the shell. This stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is also called larva.


Caterpillar molts (sheds its skin)

A caterpillar spends all its time eating. As it grows, the caterpillar becomes too large for its skin and molts (sheds its skin) to make new skin. Depending upon the type of butterfly, caterpillars molt four or five times.

life cycle of a butterfly stage caterpillars

Caterpillars spend all their time eating leaves


Third stage of the butterfly life cycle


Pupa and Cocoon

When the caterpillar reaches its final size it stops feeding. The caterpillar wriggles and twists to gradually remove its old skin, revealing a new protective skin called cocoon. Inside the cocoon, the caterpillar changes into a wormlike creature called pupa.


life cycle of a butterfly stage making the butterfly cocoon

Steps of making the butterfly cocoon by the caterpillar

life cycle of a butterfly stage butterfly cocoon

Example of a butterfly cocoon


Fourth stage of the butterfly life cycle


Adult butterfly

When the time reaches adulthood, the pupa changes into a butterfly and leaves the cocoon. It pumps blood into its wrinkled wings and expands them to their full size before flying away.


life cycle of a butterfly stage adult butterfly coming out of the cocoon

Pupa has turned into a butterfly inside the cocoon and slowly coming out of it


Now, click here to try the quiz on butterfly life cycle.