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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.

Early Life of a Butterfly

Butterflies reproduce by laying eggs, typically on leaves of plants. The number of eggs lain by a butterfly at one time varies between species. Butterfly eggs are protected by a hard and often ridged outer layer of shell, called the chorion. Butterfly eggshells are each lined with a thin coating of wax, which prevents the egg from drying out before the larva can finish developing. The surface of each egg features several small, funnel-shaped openings at one end, called micropyles, the purpose of which is to allow sperm to enter and fertilize the egg. Butterfly eggs vary significantly in size between species, and may also vary in texture and colour. However, all butterfly eggs are either spherical, cylindrical, or oval in shape.

For most species, developing larvae remain in eggs for a few weeks. However, eggs lain shortly before winter, especially in temperate regions, undergo a resting stage before the eggs finally hatch in the spring. Other butterflies may lay their eggs, which will not hatch until the summer, in the spring. Though most butterfly eggs are lain on plants, each species of butterfly has its own range of host plants. Some species of butterfly are confined to only one species of plant, while others use a range of plant species. The latter species of butterflies, however, still tend to be more or less confined to host plants of a certain family.

Butterfly eggs are fixed to the leaf on which they are lain with a glue-like substance that the mother butterfly secretes. This "glue" hardens rapidly, contracting as it does so and deforming the shape of the egg. This glue forms a meniscus, and is conspicuously visible on the base of every butterfly egg. This material is not only used to adhere eggs to the leaf on which they are lain; butterflies also use this material while forming a chrysalis. The glue is produced by a pupa to secure the setae of the cremaster, the small hook-like structure that connects the chrysalis to the branch that supports it. This glue becomes so hard that the silk pad to which the setae are glued cannot be separated from the setae. As the nature of the glue is unknown, it is a proper subject for potential research.

Butterfly larvae, or caterpillars, bite their way out of their eggs in order to hatch. Immediately after hatching, caterpillars continue to eat the eggshell from which they came, and begin eating the leaf to which it was attached; from the time that they are hatched, caterpillars spend the vast majority of the duration of the larva stage in search of food. Many species are even considered pests among farmers because of their voracious eating. Most caterpillars subsist on a diet of only plant leaves. However, some species eat insects; these include Spalgis epius and Liphyra brassolis, which both belong to the lycaenids family.

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