Butterfly Life Cycle Stages: A Free Printable Worksheet For Kids!
When it comes to the life cycle of a butterfly, it’s actually pretty simple. Butterflies go through four main stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult. The majority of a butterfly’s life will be spent as a caterpillar— or larval stage — eating leaves and staying hidden from predators until its time to pupate and emerge as an adult. The process is fast for some species of butterfly and slow for others, but no matter how long it takes, there are definite stages that every butterfly must go through to become an adult again. Luckily, their life cycle is pretty easy to understand. Keep reading for more information on each stage and follow the link at the end to download our free printable worksheet on the life cycle of butterflies!
Hatching – Newly formed larvae are tiny and have no need to eat. They will immediately begin to eat the inside of their eggshell and emerge onto a leaf. Egg sac – The female butterfly will lay her eggs within a silk sac on a leaf. This protects the eggs and will often have a special coating that keeps it from drying out. Laying – After mating, the female butterfly will lay anywhere between 1 and 1000 eggs! The exact amount will depend on the species of butterfly and the environmental conditions. Habitat – The egg stage of the butterfly life cycle is extremely sensitive to environmental conditions. If too cold or dry, the eggs will die. If too wet, they will be unable to hatch.
Caterpillar (Larval) Stage
Hatching – Newly formed caterpillars will hatch from their eggs and immediately begin eating the leaf that their egg was on. Eating – Caterpillars will eat the leaf of the plant their egg was laid on and then move to other plants as the plants die. Growth – As caterpillars eat, they grow, shedding their skin as they do so. Caterpillars must shed their skin several times as they grow in order to increase in size. Habitat – Caterpillars are often seen eating leaves and are regularly exposed to predators like birds, lizards, and spiders.
Pupa (Chrysalis) Stage
Hatching – The caterpillar will stop eating and move towards a sheltered spot, often on a branch or the ground. They will then shed their skin one last time and form a silken cocoon within which they will transform into a pupa. Changing – Within the cocoon, the caterpillar will change into a pupa and transform into a butterfly. This transformation takes between 2 and 14 days depending on the species of butterfly. Habitat – Pupae are hidden away in a shelter, and they are not regularly exposed to predators.
Adult Butterfly (Adult) Stage
Hatching – After transforming, the adult butterfly must dry its wings and bask in the sun for a few hours before it can fly. Eating – Adult butterflies will drink nectar from flowers and feed pollen to their young. Mating – Once adult butterflies have fed, they will begin looking for mates. This can take time and can happen as long as a year after they have emerged. Habitat – Adult butterflies are regularly exposed to predators, but they are also able to fly away if they need to escape.
As you can see, the life cycle of a butterfly is pretty simple and easy to understand. There are four distinct stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult. The majority of a butterfly’s life will be spent as a caterpillar, eating leaves and staying hidden from predators until its time to pupate and emerge as an adult. There are many different types of butterfly, and while they all go through the same stages, they vary greatly in terms of size, color, and habitat. Be sure to print out our free worksheet on the life cycle of butterflies and share it with others!
Free Printable Butterfly Life Cycle Stages Worksheet
Free printable worksheets for homeschooling kids, parents, or teachers. This fun science lesson is great for elementary-aged students. Check out our other free printables and education lessons on this site!
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