Most caterpillars come out of eggs. The eggs are usually laid by the adult moth or butterfly.
The egg hatches, and a tiny caterpillar emerges. It may be smaller than a grain of rice, but it multiplies and within a few days is much bigger. It sheds its skin as it grows, and after about 5-6 molts (sheds), it is big enough to make its cocoon or pupate.
Where do the caterpillars come from?
Every caterpillar is a form of a species of moth or butterfly larva. This means that every caterpillar comes from eggs laid by its adult counterparts. For a majority of substantial eating moths or butterflies, the activity only happens when they are caterpillars.
Do caterpillars lay eggs?
Basically, caterpillars are babies of moths and butterflies. Therefore, they don’t reproduce. Yet, when they mature into their winged adult forms, they’re free to mate and lay eggs that hatch into more caterpillars.
Caterpillars undergo a process called metamorphosis (or complete metamorphosis) to transform into adults. The changes in the insect’s body and shape during this process are dramatic — for example, the caterpillar loses its head capsule as it molts for the last time and develops a proboscis to drink nectar as an adult butterfly or moth.
Do caterpillars lay eggs on leaves?
Butterflies can be different in where they lay their eggs. Some lay eggs on the tops of leaves, while others lay them on the undersides, making it easy for the caterpillars to feed as soon as they hatch. Caterpillars eat different parts of plants depending on their species, and some are pickier than others. For example, monarch caterpillars primarily eat milkweed, while black swallowtail caterpillars feed on a wide range of plants in the carrot family (Apiaceae).
How do butterfly eggs look?
The actual size of each egg varies by species, but you can expect eggs to be roughly one to three millimeters in diameter (like a pinhead or smaller). The eggs can also be found in a range of shapes and colors, but without magnification, you might not see any variety.
Some butterflies, such as monarchs, lay eggs that are easily visible to the naked eye. They’re usually laid singly on a leaf or stem and are small enough to be covered by a penny.
In general, butterfly eggs are usually whitish or yellowish. Some are more greenish, some are blue, and others appear even redder than the adult butterflies that deposited them. The surface texture also varies widely — some have ridges, bumps, or spines, while others are completely smooth. Many butterfly eggs are cylindrical or conical shapes, but there is an enormous amount of variation.
How many eggs do caterpillars lay?
The female butterfly can lay anywhere from 100 to 300 eggs, and it may even range in color and size. The shape is most commonly spherical or ovate. Caterpillars typically lay their eggs on the underside of leaves so that they will be protected from the elements during their incubation period.
Most butterflies live for only a week or two; however, there are species known to live up to a year.
When it comes to the art of butterfly egg-laying, not all butterflies are created equal. When the eggs are new or nearly new, they are tiny and white and very sticky. The later caterpillar stage is when the eggs become larger, round, and yellow or green in color.
On a final note, caterpillars come out of eggs that are laid by adult moths or butterflies. After hatching and before the caterpillar is able to make its cocoon, these caterpillars will often make a silk pad on which they will rest while they are still very small. This enhanced safety in numbers allows the wriggling mass of tiny caterpillars to endure predators until they grow big enough to be able to escape most predators on their own. An alternative explanation for this behavior is that caterpillars have difficulty digesting the leaves that they eat immediately after hatching and must rest for some time before their first meal.