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Insects and other arthropods

Monarch butterfly

Sipping nectar
Sipping nectar
  • Sipping nectar
  • Pair mating

Finally! The chrysalis’ cuticle splits lengthwise: the butterfly is about to emerge! In less than a minute, it will wriggle out of the opening and completely shed its old case. Now it has to cling onto something, perhaps the chrysalis case, to pump the “blood” contained in its body (the hemolymph) to all the veins in its wings. Then the wings will slowly start to unfold. Within about 4 or 5 hours it will be ready to take flight.

No time to lose

First stop after it emerges: a nectar-bearing flower, so that it can feed and stock up on energy. Soon, though, the butterfly will head off in search of a partner with which to mate and continue the cycle. Unless it’s time to start migrating south…

An adult monarch lives for somewhere between 3 weeks and 8 months, depending on whether or not it belongs to a migratory generation.


Life cycle stage Length:*
Egg 3 to 8 days
Caterpillar (or larva) 9 to 15 days
Chrysalis (or pupa) 8 to 15 days
Butterfly (or adult) 3 weeks
(non-migratory generation)
8 months
(migratory generation)

* Longer during cool weather and shorter during warm weather.

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