Butterfly Life Cycle, Characteristics and Symbolism with Pictures
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…………..
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.
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 ButterflyClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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.
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.
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.
Different butterfly wings patternsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Do you like butterflies?
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Butterfly life cycle
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