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Enchanted Learning
ALL ABOUT BUTTERFLIES!

Butterfly Calendar
What is a Butterfly? Life Cycle Butterfly Anatomy Information Sheets Glossary Printables and Activities

Butterfly Life Cycle
Life Cycle Summary The Egg Larva (Caterpillar) Pupa Adult

BUTTERFLY EGGS

Female butterflies lay many eggs during their short life to insure that even a small number of these eggs will survive. Caterpillars (butterfly larva) hatch from eggs. The eggs are usually laid in a protected location on or near the plants that the soon-to-be caterpillar will eat. Most eggs are attached to the plant with a fast-drying glue-like chemical that the female butterfly secretes along with the egg.

Some species lay one egg at a time, others lay eggs in small clusters, while others lays hundreds at a time.

Eggs are usually laid on the under surface of a leaf or somewhere near the host plant. For example, the Monarch butterfly lays its eggs on the bottom of the milkweed plant which its caterpillar will eat. Other locations are flower heads, and crevices in tree bark. A few (like ghost moths) lay thousands of eggs while they fly; the larva of these species usually eat grass.

Butterfly eggs come in many shapes and colors. The shapes include spherical, oval, and pod-shaped; the colors include white, green, and yellow. The eggs have a thin, tough shell with raised ribs or pits (reticulations). At the top of each egg is a micropyle, a small pit that marks where the sperm entered the egg. While the egg is developing, air and water enter the egg through the micropyle.

There is a yolk inside each egg that nourished the developing larva. When it is time to hatch, the larva gnaws open the egg shell with its jaws. After hatching, most caterpillars finish eating their egg case as their first meal. After this, the plant upon which the egg was laid will be nourishment.



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