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How long does a butterfly live: let's talk about the life cycle of butterflies and the duration of each phase. How long does the egg, larva, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly stage last.
How long does a butterfly live?It is not a trivial question nor easy to answer. With the term "butterflyIn fact, thousands of different species are identified. Before trying to answer the questionhow long a butterfly lives, we will explain thelife cycleof this animal. The butterfly stage, in fact, has a limited duration compared to the entire life of the animal.
Butterfly: life cycle
Thelife cycleof abutterflysees four main onesstages, these are:
- pupa or chrysalis
- adult (what we commonly callbutterfly)
Once hatched, the caterpillar generally eats the empty shell which provides it with the necessary energy sustenance until the small caterpillar can find its host plant.
There duration of the caterpillar stage depends on several factors, first of all, the species they belong to. The duration of each stage of the butterfly's life cycle it is also conditioned by external factors such as temperature.
The caterpillar passes the terminal part of its stage to weave a silk pad to which it attaches its tail. It generally chooses the stem of the host plant: the body wraps itself in a sort of hard shell in which it evolves into the pupa stage (thechrysalis). Like all other stages, the duration of the chrysalis also depends on a mix of factors. When the casing of thechrysalisit cracks, the adult individual, what we call, begins to come out with difficultybutterfly. After describing, for long lines, thelife cycleof abutterfly, from egg to adult, we immediately see how much its adult form lives.
How long does a butterfly live
Thebutterfliesthey see an average duration of about a month. So does the butterfly live a month? No, this is just a flat rate estimate… there are some species that live as a butterflyonly a few hours, while other, longer-lived species reach one year of life.
Monarch butterflies, for example (which live between the United States and Mexico and make a long migration), can live from two weeks to eight months. Why is this so long? It depends on the hatching, when the life cycle of the monarch butterfly begins and many external factors.
In this specific case, the monarch butterflies that come out of the chrysalis between the end of summer and the beginning of autumn are very different from the monarch butterflies that flicker (come out of the chrysalis) on hot summer days.
The monarch butterflies that undergo metamorphosis between late summer and early autumn were born to fly and face the long journey of migration (thousands of kilometers). The butterflies that develop between late summer and early autumn make a journey in winterround trip. Monarch butterflies that undergo metamorphosis in summer, on the other hand, remain and continue their life cycle by reproducing on site.
Are there butterflies that only live one day?
We told you that theaverage durationof thelife of a butterflyis about a month. At opposite poles, we can point out that in Costa Rica there are butterflies that do not live more than two days, while the Vanessa antiopa is a very long-lived butterfly that can live up to a year.
The maximum life span of a monarch butterfly is eight months.
Ornithoptera alexandrae is thelargest butterflyin the world, it is considered an endangered species. It has a wingspan of 31 cm, a body length of 8 cm and weighs about 12 g. It is aboutmeasuresissizehuge for onebutterfly (31 cm wingspan is a lot!). Males are smaller (20 cm wingspan). The life of thebutterflyadult of the species Ornithoptera alexandrae lasts about 3 months.
Of course, it is clear that butterflies are not counted among the most long-lived animals, however it is also good not to fall into generalizations: it is not true that any butterfly lives only one day!
How long does a caterpillar live?
If we could give rough estimates on the duration of the adult stage of thebutterflies, we cannot do the same with thecaterpillar. The reason? First of all, the first stage that is encountered in the analysis of the life cycle of a butterfly is the larva. Even before that, there is the egg that sees an embryonic development ranging from 5-6 days to 5 months. A larva hatches from the egg which feeds on the shell and gets fat, colors and becomes a caterpillar.
Before becoming pupa, the caterpillar can take a very variable time interval according to food conditions, the specific growth capacity of the species, atmospheric conditions and other environmental factors.
It will take weeks from caterpillar to butterfly… but in some species, this process of metamorphosis can take up to 7 years!
Generalizing, the life of the caterpillar can last from about 1 month to 3 years.
In the photo: the Polyommatus coridon species