Moth Life Cycles

Moths have fascinating life-cycles that are used in many countries to teach children about the natural world. The transformation from egg to caterpillar to pupa is one of the wonders of nature.

1.  All moths start off as eggs.  Some eggs are smaller than a millimeter and almost all are yellow or green. 

 

2.  A caterpillar once it hatches often eats its own eggshell and then begins to eat the plant it was laid on.  Caterpillars must molt or shed their own skin in order to grow.  Most do this 4 to 5 times in a period of about 2 weeks.

 

3.  A fully grown caterpillar finds a safe place to pupate.  Some caterpillars spin cocoons of silken threads in which they pupate.

 

4.  Inside the caterpillar is undergoing amazing chemical changes, and gradually the adult moth emerges.

 

5.  The adult moth breaks out of its pupa.  Its wings and body are still soft so it pumps blood into its newly formed wings.  Within about half an hour, the exoskeleton hardens and the wings become rigid.  The new adult's task is to find a mate.

In one day, a caterpillar can eat many times its weight in food.  Most of the food is stored as fat for later stages of life, such as the metamorphosis from caterpillar to adult.  During that time the moth can't eat.

© 2015 Philippine Lepidoptera Butterflies and Moths, Inc.  (PhiLep)

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