A life cycle refers to all the stages that animals go through with reference to their growth. Life cycles keep on repeating for reproduction as well. There are many animals in this world and all experience different kinds of life cycles. No two animals have the same life cycle.
Animals like beetles, frogs, and butterflies go through a process called metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is a word for transforming from one form to another. There are two types of Metamorphosis in insects- Incomplete Metamorphosis and Complete Metamorphosis. When the young ones look like their adults, that process is called Incomplete Metamorphosis. And when the young ones look totally different from their adults and eat different types of food, it is called Complete Metamorphosis.
Butterflies generally follow a four-stage life cycle.
Stage 1- Egg
Adult female butterflies lay a lot of their eggs on plants. These plants serve as food to those tiny caterpillars. These eggs are very small in size.
Stage 2- Caterpillar: The Feeding Stage
This stage is the larva. In this stage, the caterpillar keeps on eating. As it grows, it splits its skin and sheds it for about 4-5 times.
Stage 3- Pupa: The Transition Stage
When the caterpillar is fully grown and is done eating, it becomes a pupa. The pupa is generally protected inside the cocoon of silk. No major changes can be seen in this stage but the special cells present in the larva start growing at this time. The butterfly’s legs, wings, eyes, and other parts of the body start to develop.
Stage 4- Adult: The Reproductive Stage
In this stage, the caterpillar is a grown-up butterfly now. It looks very different from the larva. It has long legs, long antennae, and compound eyes. They have also developed large and colorful wings by now. They can fly using them but they can’t grow anymore.