The Life Cycle of the Painted Lady (Thistle Butterfly)
STAGES OF THE INCREDIBLE METAMORPHOSIS
Egg (3 to 5 Days)
The life of a painted lady begins when a female lays an egg on the host plant. The female painted lady butterfly may lay her eggs on soybean, sunflower, canola, mint and other crops. In 3 to 5 days a caterpillar will emerge from a tiny green egg which is small enough to fit on top of a needle. Once the caterpillar hatches it turns around to eat its egg for its first meal which has lots of proteins for it.
Once the caterpillar hatches from the egg it is so tiny that it looks almost like an ant. The painted lady goes through five stages of instars which are also known as growth stages. The growth stage starts when the caterpillar sheds its skin and moves on to the next growth stage. Between each stage the caterpillar grows larger in size up to 2 inches before it is ready to pupate and go into the chrysalis form. The painted lady caterpillars continue feeding for about two weeks and it prepares itself for pupation.
After 7 to 10 days the caterpillars emerge from the chrysalis. At first the wings seem small and the butterfly has a large abdomen. The abdomen is filled with fluids that will be pumped into its wings over the next few minutes. Extra fluids are disposed by the butterfly
which is a red liquid known as meconium. The freshly emerged butterfly will not be able to fly for the next few hours until the fluids are pumped into its wings and they have hardened. After a few hours the butterfly will be ready to fly and feed on numerous