The lifespan of a butterfly greatly varies from species to species. So, a specific number of days or months to describe it cannot be used, however a general idea can be given. The average lifespan is considered as 20 to 40 days. The minimum span is just for 3 to 4 days, while the maximum considered time period is 12 months. These were the average, maximum, and minimum lifespan. Given below are the four life stages of the butterfly.
The Egg: The first stage in the life cycle is the egg, which is a tiny oval object which has fine ribs and other minute structures. The female adult attaches the egg somewhere nearby, so that during the caterpillar's life cycle, food is easily available.
The Caterpillar: The caterpillar is a worm-like stage of the butterfly. It is seen in different patterns; it generally has a striped pattern or patches, or even spine-like hair. At this stage, the larva keeps on eating leaves and sheds its skin many times.
The Pupa: Pupa, also called the chrysalis, is when the caterpillar's tissues are broken down and the adult's body structures are formed. It is usually of a color which blends with the background.
The Adult: This is the stage when we get to see the colorful butterfly. At this stage, it is mobile and reproductive. During this stage, there will be mating between the male and female and new eggs will be laid by the female.
- The shortest lifespan for a butterfly species, which is just few days, is of the copper butterfly and the small blue butterfly.
- The average lifespan of a painted lady butterfly is just 2 weeks, wherein the eggs stage will be for 3-5 days, the caterpillar stage will be for 5-10 days, then pupa will last for 7-10 days, and after 2 weeks is the adult stage.
- The longest lifespan is of a monarch butterfly. It is considered to be up to 12 months.
- Many factors affect the total lifespan of a species of a butterfly. These are factors like local weather conditions, latitude, and time of the year.
- During the adult stage, most species of butterfly tend to live for a week or two.
- One interesting fact about butterflies is that the female lives for a few days longer than the male.
- The total life span of a butterfly means considering the time spent in the caterpillar and pupa stage plus the adult stage.
- Number of flights taken by a species for migration also affect the total life span of a butterfly.
- If a species takes two flights, then two generations will emerge. For example, if there are two flights during the months of May to September, then one generation will appear from the pupa stage during spring and another generation during summer.
- The real months of emergence depend on latitude, which is because the two generations will have their own strategies for passing through the winter months.
- Many northern species of butterflies only have a single flight annually, and have a total life span of around a year. Some arctic butterflies have a life cycle lasting for 2 years due to a short growing season and scarcity of good quality of food required during the larva stage.
This was all about the lifespan of the butterfly, how different factors affect it, and the various stages involved in its life cycle. It is possible to observe the life cycle of a butterfly yourself by buying a butterfly kit at a pet store or online.