Life Cycle

Though only many people come across with winged adult butterflies, they show a complete metamorphism.
Life cycle of butterflies comprise of four stages namely egg (ovum), caterpillar (larva), pupa and adult butterfly (imago), where duration of this cycle varies among species and on prevailing environmental conditions. [1,2,3,4]

Most of the times eggs are laid on larval food plants, where the larva is going to be fed on, but some species (i.e. Chocolate Soldier - Junonia iphita) lay on any plant near their larval food plant. As it is being laid, a thin layer of sticky material covers the egg, which fixes the egg to the surface on which it is laid. Egg laying positions can be on upper surface, under surface, outer margin, mid rib or petiole of leaves; young shoots, flowers, flower pods, fruits, twigs, barks, aerial roots, or tender stem, the part that the larva is going to be consumed, depending on the species. Young leaves are mostly preferred; hence eggs laying mostly done during the flushing season, mainly after rains during the season, where the plants flush after rains. Most of the species lay eggs singly, scattering throughout the plant, while some lay eggs in clusters (i.e. Small Salmon Arab - Colotis amata, Three Spot Grass Yellow- Eurema blanda, Tawny Coster- Acraea violae).[5] Color of the egg varies among species, and some eggs are subjected to change in color with maturity. [6] On the surface of the egg, prominent ornamentation is commonly visible, in many species. This ornamentation consists of tiny ridges, pits and polygonal cells, and intersections of which may occur with exceptions of Papilionids and some Nymphalids on which no ornamentation is visible. Shape of the egg may be spherical, oval, pod-shaped or domed shaped. At the top of the egg there is a depression (micropylar pit) with tiny pores (micropyle), which provide the path to sperms for fertilization. The mycropyle being the weakest point in the shell, parasitization of the egg also occurs through this pore.

Just after hatching larva eats its own empty egg shell (chorion) as its first meal. There after most of the larvae feed on plant material, while some being carnivorous (i.e. Apefly - Spalgis epeus larva feeds on Mealy bugs - Phenacoccus spp. - පිටි මකුණා). A single plant species or selective plant species used as larval food plant/s by different butterfly species, where normally imago lays eggs on. Larvae have to travel to their food plant in the case of eggs are not laid on the correct plant. Most of the leaf feeders prefer tender leaves, few being fond of mature leaves. (i.e. Gaudy Baron - Euthalia lubentina). Many Hesperids make a covered nest by binding a piece of a leaf or rolling up a leaf/ leaves with their silky saliva and keep eating within it. [7] Red Pierrot (Talicada nyseus) larva lives within the thick leaf of අක්කාපාන (Kalanchoe pinnata), eating its fleshy tissue between upper and under layers. [8] Some Lycinids feed on flower buds (Silver Streaked Blue - Iraota timoleon, Common Cerulean - Jamides celeno, Dark Cerulean - Jamides bochus), on pods (Pea Blue - Lampides boeticus) [9] or on fruits (Common Guava Blue - Virachola isocrates, Large Guava Blue - Virachola perse). [10] Day time feeders are common but there are night time feeders as well. They are hiding under leaves or decaying leaf matters on the ground in the day time.

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