The Monarch Butterfly

Updated August 13, 2006 - Updated photos added to the linked pages below.

Image: Monarch larva and adult

We humans are accustomed to seeing babies born looking like tiny people who grow up to become big people. Therefore, it's only natural that some people, upon seeing a smaller than average butterfly, call it a baby butterfly. They just don't realize that a butterfly's life cycle is dramatically different from our human life cycle. Follow the links below to learn about its various stages.

Every butterfly you see flying around is a fully grown adult. Young butterflies don't look like butterflies at all. They're long and round, like worms. We call them caterpillars. Scientists call them larvae. Only as larvae do the butterflies grow larger, having hatched from tiny eggs laid upon milkweed leaves.

Upon reaching full size, like the larva shown above, it removes its skin to reveal a chrysalis that has been developing within. The chrysalis soon becomes motionless. From the outside it appears unchanging, but with it a miraculous transformation is taking place. The caterpillar's insides are turning into a butterfly. After about ten days the adult butterfly will emerge!

For more information on Monarchs than you ever dreamed existed, visit the Monarch Watch!

Eggs | Caterpillar | Chrysalis | Emerging Adult | Monarch Watch | Clay's Home Page