Prove your humanity

Caterpillars, Chrysalis and Butterflies…Oh My!

Life Cycle of a Butterfly

The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle is one of our family’s favorite books. Inspired by the book, my kids and I did a cute craft that goes through all the stages from caterpillar to chrysalis and then to butterfly.

Last August, I ordered caterpillars through Insect Lore and they were delivered to our house. My kids were completely fascinated watching this process and we did some fun crafts while observing the caterpillars morph into butterflies. Now that spring is approaching, I highly recommend the live butterfly garden kit for anyone contemplating purchasing it.

Butterflies are beautiful and fascinating creatures that undergo a remarkable transformation during their life cycle. Understanding the different stages of a butterfly’s life cycle can help us appreciate these creatures even more. Here is a simple explanation of the four stages of a butterfly’s life cycle:

Egg Stage

The first stage of a butterfly’s life cycle begins when a female butterfly lays her eggs on a suitable host plant. The eggs are usually laid on the underside of leaves and are very small and round. After a few days, the eggs hatch into larvae, which are commonly known as caterpillars.

Larva Stage

During the larva stage, the caterpillar feeds voraciously on the host plant, growing rapidly and shedding its skin several times. The caterpillar’s sole purpose during this stage is to eat as much as possible to prepare for the next stage of its life cycle.

Pupa Stage

When the caterpillar has eaten enough, it enters the pupa stage, also known as the chrysalis stage. The pupa stage is a period of transformation during which the caterpillar undergoes a complete metamorphosis, changing its body shape and organs. During this stage, the pupa is vulnerable and usually remains still, hidden away in a safe place until it emerges as an adult butterfly.

Adult Stage

The final stage of the butterfly life cycle is the adult stage, when the butterfly emerges from the pupa with fully-formed wings. The newly emerged butterfly will usually wait for its wings to dry before flying off in search of food, mates, and suitable host plants to lay eggs on. Adult butterflies will continue to mate, lay eggs, and start the life cycle all over again.

Understanding the life cycle of a butterfly can help us appreciate the beauty and fragility of these creatures. From egg to adult, the transformation that butterflies undergo is truly remarkable.


  • Egg carton
  • Scissors
  • Paint
  • Black pipe cleaner
  • Eye stickers or googly eyes
  • Construction paper
  • Marbles
  • Paper lunch sack
  • 9×13″ pan or a plastic container


Here my kids are watching the caterpillars eat their “food” (tan gunk you see at the bottom of the container).
We made our own caterpillars out of egg cartons.  Cut a section of three egg carton cups.

Have the kids paint the egg carton.  After the kids are done painting, set it aside to dry.

Next we took a black pipe cleaner and cut it in half.  We then made two small holes at the top of the head of our egg carton, and stuck each end of the pipe cleaner through the bottom of the carton into the holes.  Then we curled the ends.
We also found some cute “eye” stickers to place onto our caterpillars.  Googly eyes will work great too.
In the photo below, you can see how four of our caterpillars are in their chrysalis.  However one caterpillar in the center is just beginning to form his chrysalis.
Next we took our caterpillars and had them form their own “chrysalis” by placing them inside a paper lunch sack.

My daughter has a tree mural painted in her room, so we twisted the ends of the bags and taped them to the leaves on the tree.

I then had my children choose the color of their construction paper and paints.  I placed them inside a plastic tub with some marbles.

Have the kids tilt the baking pan or plastic tub to move the marbles around in the paint. Here is another post that I did of the kids doing marble painting.

My daughter was really getting into it.  After the kids are done, set the paper aside to dry fully.

Here are the beautiful butterflies that we woke up to one morning.  They all hatched while we were sleeping.
While my kids weren’t watching, I cut out butterfly wings from their marble paintings.

I then hot glue gunned (it dries faster) the egg carton caterpillars to the construction paper.

I then taped them to my daughter’s mural for the kids to find.

Here are a couple more photos of our butterflies.  If you look carefully at this photo you can see the butterflies proboscis, which is a tube-like tongue, as he is drinking the sugar water we dropped onto the roses.

When we let our butterflies fly away, one landed on one of our plants, and I captured this photo.


If you’re looking for another fun and educational activity to do with your kids that relates to the butterfly life cycle, you might want to check out this butterfly life cycle sensory bin activity from Parenting Chaos. It’s a great way for kids to learn about the different stages of a butterfly’s life cycle while engaging in sensory play. Give it a try and see how much your kids enjoy it!

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