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How do catipillars turn into butterflies?

I know all about how they make cocoons and while in there they change. But my question is, what exactly happens?

Yesterday my son noticed a catipillar on the tree in our front yard. It was a strange one as it had spikes sticking out of it. When my son went to touch it the spike hurt his finger. I did what any sensible mother would do and told him not to touch it.

Anyway, we noticed today that it formed a cocoon. We looked at it and we both noticed something sticking out of the bottom of it. When I looked closer it looked like the catipillar's skin...spikes and all...all shriveled up.

So, now I'm wondering. What exactly happens when a catipillar turns into a butterfly?


Asked by amethystrse at 3:46 PM on Jul. 1, 2008 in Just for Fun

Level 2 (13 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (2)
  • The chrysalis is formed from the last larval stage (caterpillar). Usually, the caterpillar’s exoskeleton alters to form the outer skin of the chrysalis. Inside, the insect separates from the chrysalis and grows a new exoskeleton that includes adult features. Internal development starts from various clusters of cells (imaginal discs or buds) that have been dormant within the caterpillar. These imaginal discs may be considered islands of embryonic tissue that remain undifferentiated until pupation, when they give rise to adult features. Unneeded internal structures breakdown through histolysis and are absorbed by phagocytosis. There is a great deal of variation in development between species as well as between organ systems. For a more complete discussion you’ll need consult a good text on insect morphology or get into the literature.

    Answer by vbruno at 4:03 PM on Jul. 1, 2008

  • Caterpillar
    Morphology of a caterpillar: soft-bodied, herbivorous and segmented larva of a butterfly. Mouth parts: pieces forming the mouth. ... -

    Answer by vbruno at 4:05 PM on Jul. 1, 2008