Different species lay different number of eggs at a time. Also, the shape and size of the egg may vary depending upon the butterfly species. The eggs may take a few weeks to hatch, depending upon the time when the eggs are laid. If the eggs are laid around the winter season, then they may go into the resting phase (known as diapause), and hatch only in the spring season. Some northern species of the butterfly lay eggs in the spring, which are hatched during the summer.
Caterpillars can be dull-colored or may have striped bodies of bright colors. In the larval stage, tiny wing disks appear on the thoracic segments. They may be hairy or may have bristles. As it grows, a caterpillar continues shedding its skin to meet its body’s growth. When the caterpillar is ready (about 11/4 inch), it hangs itself on the underside of a leaf, forming a J shape, and starts proceeding towards the next stage of its life.
Some pupae are capable of moving parts of their abdomen to produce sounds as a defense against predators. During the transformation, a complete reassembly of cells results into the formation of a butterfly. Pupa may appear to rest, but it undergoes a major reform during this stage. The beautiful patterns of the wings are formed within the pupa, in this stage.
Mating and reproducing characterize this stage. Female adults lay eggs to start the life cycle again. Depending upon the specific species, adult butterflies live for a time period that varies between a week to a year.
* Note: The time spent at each of the stages can vary depending on the season of laying and the specific species of the butterfly.