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Thursday, 28 February 2019

Butterfly Life Cycle - DIY School project

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I am sure everyone has studied the life cycle of a butterfly during their school days, drew diagrams and written explanations. However, it is a completely different experience to see this happen before your own eyes.

It is a time consuming process so one needs to be a patient observer. Altough there are butterfly life cycle kits available in the market, but I decided to follow the natural course, economical and zero budget. Their breeding time is during the pre-monsoon/post monsoon season when it's not raining heavily and the weather is cool.

The common butterflies found in India are Common Tiger, Common Mormon, Common Crow etc.

I decided to attract the Common Mormon butterfly.

To witness this phenomenon, we need a host plant like Lemon or a kadi patta plant - The curry tree (Murraya koenigii), for the simple fact that the butterflies are attracted to it. We have to also make sure that the plant is slightly grown up as the caterpillar needs a lot of leaves to feed on.

1st Stage - Eggs are laid on the leaves

(No pics, as it is an ardous task to look through so many leaves) The eggs are laid below the leaves.

2nd Stage - Caterpillar 

The caterpillars emerge approximately after 3 days from the eggs. Their colour changes as they grow.

A young caterpillar
Both young and a fully grown caterpillar.  At this stage we need to take special care that the caterpillars don't get eaten by the birds. We can do this by moving the plant indoors.

Fully grown caterpillar ready for the Pupal stage
 Caterpillar preparing to enter the Pupal stage. 

3rd Stage is Pupa

After 5-6 days, approximately a week later, the fully grown caterpillar becomes stationary and turns into pupa or is covered in a cacoon which looks like this -
Green coloured Pupa suspended from the stem with a silk thread like belt made from caterpillar's saliva

4th Stage is Butterfly

After another week or so, the Butterfly slowly comes out from the cacoon.
An empty Pupa
It takes approximately 2 hrs for the wings to dry. So the newly emerged Butterfly sits on the plant under the sunrays to dry its wings. 
Newly emerged butterfly drying its wings
Then it just flies away to explore the world!

Wonders of nature!
Caterpillar feeding on the lime leaves

Photo credit : Chinmay Deo


  1. Wonderfully captured...How following the natural course never seems a feasible idea. Would definitely show these pictures to my son. Great effort by you!

    1. Thank you. Oh yes, sure do. My daughter too loved the experience :)

  2. An amazing process! Well documented!

    1. Thank you. It was time consuming and the fear of losing a day's capture too lingered :)

  3. Awesome work, good to see your effort,there is an essence of experience these in the natural way.

  4. Thank you. I completely agree. It was a wonderful experience in deed :)