ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Butterfly Life Cycle, Characteristics and Symbolism with Pictures

Updated on August 22, 2017
radhikasree profile image

Radhika loves beautiful birds and flies. She is curious to know about their life and characteristics in detail.

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 butterfly

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.

Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Butterfly EggCaterpillar or LarvaChrysalisAdult Monarch Butterfly
Butterfly Egg
Butterfly Egg | Source
Caterpillar or Larva
Caterpillar or Larva | Source
Chrysalis | Source
Adult Monarch Butterfly
Adult Monarch Butterfly | Source


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.

Characteristics of Butterfly
Characteristics of Butterfly | Source


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.

Psyche and Cupid
Psyche and Cupid | Source

Butterfly 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


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.

Butterfly Painting
Butterfly Painting | Source

Different butterfly wings patterns

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Do you like butterflies?

See results

Butterfly life cycle

Butterfly art

© 2013 Radhika Sreekanth


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)