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Butterfly Gardens Gifts

Butterflies are iconic and symbolic. These amazing transformational insects represent a special meaning to a lot of people.

Butterflies and butterfly designs on t-shirts, hats, mugs, tote bags, sneakers, magnets, stickers, aprons, mouse pads, speakers, and more.

Butterfly Life Cycle

Butterflies undergo a complete metamorphosis while going through four different stages:

Egg: The first stage of a butterfly is the egg which is laid on the leaf of a plant. Butterfly eggs consist of a hard-ridged outer layer of shell, called the chorion. This is lined with a thin coating of wax which prevents the egg from drying out before the larva has had time to fully develop.

Each egg contains a number of tiny funnel-shaped openings at one end, called micropyles; the purpose of these holes is to allow sperm to enter and fertilize the egg. Butterfly and moth eggs vary greatly in size between species, but they are all either spherical or ovate.

Butterfly eggs are fixed to a leaf with a special glue which hardens rapidly. As it hardens it contracts, deforming the shape of the egg. This glue is easily seen surrounding the base of every egg forming a meniscus. The nature of the glue is unknown and is a suitable subject for research. The same glue is produced by a pupa to secure the setae of the cremaster. This glue is so hard that the silk pad, to which the setae are glued, cannot be separated. Eggs are usually laid on plants.

Larva: The larva is the stage that immediately follows after the egg hatches. Butterfly larvae, or caterpillars, consume plant leaves and spend practically all of their time in search of food. It starts feeding on the leaves and flowers and continues feeding on them. It undergoes a massive change in growth as well as shape.

Caterpillars mature through a series of stages called instars. Butterfly caterpillars have three pairs of true legs from the thoracic segments and up to 6 pairs of prolegs arising from the abdominal segments. These prolegs have rings of tiny hooks called crochets that help them grip the substrate.

Pupa: It grows into a pupa which is the resting stage. When the larva is fully grown, hormones such as prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH) are produced. At this point the larva stops feeding and begins "wandering" in the quest of a suitable pupation site, often the underside of a leaf.

The chrysalis is usually incapable of movement, although some species can rapidly move the abdominal segments or produce sounds to scare potential predators. The pupal transformation into a butterfly through metamorphosis has held great appeal to mankind. To transform from the miniature wings visible on the outside of the pupa into large structures usable for flight, the pupal wings undergo rapid mitosis and absorb a great deal of nutrients.

Adult: This is the final stage, which is the beautiful flying adult.

The adult, sexually mature, stage of the insect is known as the imago. As Lepidoptera, butterflies have four wings that are covered with tiny scales. The fore and hindwings are not hooked together, permitting a more graceful flight.

An adult butterfly has six legs, but in the nymphalids, the first pair is reduced. After it emerges from its pupal stage, a butterfly cannot fly until the wings are unfolded. A newly-emerged butterfly needs to spend some time inflating its wings with blood and letting them dry, during which time it is extremely vulnerable to predators. Some butterflies' wings may take up to three hours to dry while others take about one hour.

It is a popular belief that butterflies have very short life spans. However, butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species. Many species have long larval life stages while others can remain dormant in their pupal or egg stages and thereby survive winters.


 

 

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