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The butterfly; life cycle, characteristics, symbolism, art, pictures and tattoos

Updated on June 18, 2015

The cold misty clouds gave way for sunlight to come. The sun also didn’t emit much hot rays. Garden got filled with blooms as it was the onset of spring. Red and blue butterflies flew to the flowers fluttering…………..

Blue Butterfly
Blue Butterfly | Source

The butterfly is an all time fascinating insect that speaks to us through its beauty. Watching the angelic butterflies flapping their wings in a garden is a refreshing sight. A butterfly is a day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera. Some of them are pests during their larva stage whereas some species are pollinating agents of plants. Butterflies are considered as the motifs in several culture and art.

Red Butterfly or Red Glider
Red Butterfly or Red Glider | Source

Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly

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Butterfly EggCaterpillar or LarvaChrysalisAdult Monarch Butterfly
Butterfly Egg
Butterfly Egg | Source
Caterpillar or Larva
Caterpillar or Larva | Source
Chrysalis
Chrysalis | Source
Adult Monarch Butterfly
Adult Monarch Butterfly | Source

Life Cycle

The life of an adult butterfly can be for a week to nearly a year depending upon the species. Some of them are dormant in their egg or pupal stage to survive adverse environment conditions.

The life cycle of a butterfly has four stages namely egg, larva, pupa and adult. The egg laid out by an adult butterfly glued to the leaf of a plant is commonly spherical or oval in shape. Its hardened outer shell protects the larva throughout its growing period. The eggs of some species have their own host plant and they are hatched during favorable climatic conditions.

The larva or caterpillar that comes out of the egg looks like a worm with colored patches on its body. It feeds on plants for growing while some others may eat small insects too. The caterpillar goes through a series of stages to mature. The pigment hardens rapidly at the end of each stage and the last stage marks the beginning of the development of butterfly wing pattern. Caterpillars defend themselves against toxic substances through aposematism, a practice that gives them a distinct color as a warning signal.

Pupa stage indicates full growth of the caterpillar called chrysalis. The chrysalis is static, often seen hanging from a substrate with miniature wings visible outside. The pupal transformation into a butterfly is called metamorphosis in which the wings undergo several phases of surgery. When wings can be unfolded from the pleats, final phase reaches.

The sexually matured state is the adult or imago. A newly born butterfly has to spend some time inflating its wings covered with blood. It can flap the wings only when they are dry during which time it is extremely vulnerable to predators.

Characteristics of Butterfly
Characteristics of Butterfly | Source

Characteristics

The major part of a butterfly is occupied by the designed and colored wings that distinguish it from other insects. Adult butterflies have four wings; a forewing and hindwing on either side of the body. The body is made up of three segments head, thorax and abdomen. The wings and legs are attached to thorax which forms the middle part of its body. The two antennae of a butterfly help sniff the air. The long elongated proboscis acts as a straw through which it drinks nectar from flowers.

Butterflies are characterized by their scale-covered wings. The minute scales pigmented with melanin are responsible for coloration. The microstructure of the scales causes iridescence and changes in the colors. Butterflies exhibit the property of polymorphism. Same species showing difference in appearance can be because of geographic or seasonal variants. Mimicry is another interesting character of butterflies. This can be for hiding an attribute that they don’t share in their species or to escape from predators. Also many butterflies have distinctive seasonal forms called dry-season form and wet-season form. This property is termed as seasonal polyphenism.

Psyche and Cupid
Psyche and Cupid | Source

Symbolism

Japanese relate the arrival of a butterfly to that of young maidens for marriage. Greeks associate butterflies to soul and love. The myth following this is based on the love story of Eros and Psyche. Psyche was a princess who was forbidden from looking at her husband, Eros, the god of love. Then she fears that her husband may have a monstrous look and she looks at him by lighting a candle at night. This arouses Eros and he leaves her forever as she suspected him. After searching for a longer time, Psyche finds her husband and reunites with him. She becomes an immortal sprouting angelic butterfly wings.

In one Russian dialect, butterflies are referred to as ‘dushuchka’ meaning soul. According to Native Americans, whispering your wish to butterflies is a way of getting it granted. As butterflies can’t talk, they keep the wish a secret. After release, they may reach the Great Spirit, who knows the thoughts of butterflies and grant the wish.

Butterfly Painting
Butterfly Painting | Source

Art

The color and beauty of butterflies are very much preferred for featuring in many art forms. This was clearly visible in many cultures including Egypt. The brightly designed images of butterflies were carved into temples, buildings and jewelry. Some species of butterflies were regarded as the reincarnations of dead warriors. Today, butterfly art is exhibited in a variety of manners. Glass paintings, greeting cards, wall papers, resin embedding all make use of the pictures of butterflies. Mixed media artworks also produce many kinds of attractive, awesome butterfly graphics.

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Tattoos

The butterfly is a symbol of celebration, sprouted love, everlasting life, dreams, change, soul, transformation and resurrection. Females crave to have a butterfly tattoo on their bodies. With a perfect combination of beauty and strength, butterfly tattoos are versatile and give you a sense of fulfillment. Butterfly tattoos enhance the feminine aspects and come in a variety of designs.

Butterfly tattoo in hand
Butterfly tattoo in hand | Source
Butterfly tattoo in foot
Butterfly tattoo in foot | Source

Different butterfly wings patterns

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Butterfly life cycle

Butterfly art

© 2013 Radhika Sreekanth

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    • radhikasree profile image
      Author

      Radhika Sreekanth 3 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks Silva Hayes for making such a wonderful comment. Butterflies are indeed beautiful.

      Thanks for everything.

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 3 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Beautiful article about a beautiful subject, and so informative. I didn't know about the seasonal thing until now. Voted Up, Beautiful, Useful, and Interesting. Thanks!

    • radhikasree profile image
      Author

      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Hi livingsta,

      Thank you very much for the positive feedback. Butterflies are innocent creatures with a short life. Thanks for the votes and share!

    • radhikasree profile image
      Author

      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Hi bridalletter,

      Very much pleased to hear that you like butterflies and the subject itself gives several ways for comprehending. Can't wait to read your hubs...........

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Everyone loves butterflies. Their beautiful and vibrant colours! The pictures shared here are beautiful! A detailed hub for even children who would need an assignment.

      Thank you for sharing this with us Radhika.

      Votes up and sharing!

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 4 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      I love butterflies and learning about them. I have a few articles I am working on on the subject, will be fun to share soon. Very nice hub, I like the addition of the butterfly tatoos.

    • radhikasree profile image
      Author

      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Hi Vinaya,

      Children always like to catch them as they're beautiful with wings to fly. I'm glad that you gave up this hobby.

      Thanks for making such an engaging comment.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      When I was a boy, I used to collect butterfly specimen. However, later I gave up my hobby because I understood I was being cruel to these beautiful creatures.

      Thanks for this informative article.

    • radhikasree profile image
      Author

      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks Bake Like a Pro for such a nice comment. By planting those bushes, you've showcased your love towards butterflies. Thanks again for voting this up and sharing it.

    • Bake Like a Pro profile image

      Bake Like a Pro 4 years ago

      Wow... what a beautiful article you have here radhikasree. I love butterflies and have planted the bushes they like to attract them to my garden. I really enjoyed your article and loved the beautiful pictures and the video. Thank you. Voted up and sharing :).

    • radhikasree profile image
      Author

      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks Ruby for making such a nice comment. I'm happy that you liked this hub on butterflies.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      The butterfly is so beautiful. I enjoyed reading the info you presented. I also thought the tattoo on the woman's foot was lovely. Thank you for sharing....

    • radhikasree profile image
      Author

      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Hi tillsontitan,

      Thank you very much for such a lovely comment. Butterflies bring forth cheers in our minds. Thanks for the vote too.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      This is a very interesting and informative hub. You've included so much information about the life of the butterfly and topped it off with the butterfly in mythology. The picture's you've chosen are lovely too.

      Voted up and interesting.

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