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ALL ABOUT BUTTERFLIES!
|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|
The Larval Stage of a Butterfly
This larval stage usually lasts from two weeks to about a month. This is the main feeding stage of the butterfly. Caterpillars eat almost constantly and grow very quickly, at an astonishing rate.
Caterpillars mostly eat the leaves of flowering plants and trees using their powerful jaws (mandibles) Caterpillars are very limited in their diet; many species will only eat the leaves of a single type of plant. They usually eat only the plant that their mother carefully chose to lay their egg on.
Only a few lepidoptera larva are carnivores. The larva of the Harvester Butterfly exclusively eats woolly aphids.
Growing and Molting
As caterpillars grow, their exoskeleton becomes tight on them, so they molt (lose their old exoskeleton). After the molt, while the new skin is still soft, they swallow a lot of air, which expands their body. Then, when the cuticle hardens, they let the air out and have room for growth.
The Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar has large eyespots that make it look like a large snake-like predator and not a vulnerable larva.
Caterpillar Anatomy Printout
Simple Caterpillar printout.
Label Caterpillar Anatomy Printout
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