by Srishti Batra – Last month, while trying to wrap up some experiments, I needed plain tiger butterflies (Danaus chrysippus). Since it is retreating monsoon in Bangalore, it was really hard to find them. But one fine sunny day, with the help of my labmates, we got lucky and caught some butterflies and their beautiful caterpillars.
Unlike human babies who just look like a smaller version of adults, young ones of butterflies (and many more insects) are called caterpillars and they don’t look like small versions of their adult form at all (see pictures below).
A female butterfly lays eggs on leaves which hatch into caterpillars, the young form of butterflies. The caterpillar stage generally lasts for 1-2 weeks and during this period, the whole purpose of caterpillar is to eat leaves, poop, and get bigger. As the caterpillar is getting bigger, it sheds its skin and wears new skin from time to time. When it attains enough size and mass, it becomes a pupa. A pupa is a stationary form, where it does not eat or move. Inside the pupal case, it starts developing organs required for adult. It stays as a pupa for 1-2 weeks and then a beautiful adult butterfly emerges from the pupa.
This process is called metamorphosis and many insects go through this process before becoming adults.
I also made a video of butterfly emerging from pupa, check this link:
Below are images of different stages of caterpillar, pupa and adults and one more time lapse video of butterfly opening its wings.