What are the different life stages of a butterfly?

Using the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) as a model we will look at the four different stages of the butterfly or moth life cycle.



Female butterfly oviposits on the larval host plant. Eggs hatch within days, many caterpillars eat the eggshell upon hatching. Eggs can be laid singularly or in groups.




Most species have a particular plant or small group of plants that are used as a host for larval feeding. There are typically five larval instars. Caterpillars can change appearance from one instar to the next.




This is the stage where the transformation from caterpillar to adult occurs. Pupa of a butterfly is called a chrysalis, of a moth is called a cocoon. The pupal stage can range from days to months depending on the species.




Adult butterflies have a main purpose of finding a mate and then laying eggs for the next generation. Adults will drink nectar from flowers nutrition and energy.


View a poster of the butterfly life cycle click here