MAR 31, 2017 4:25 PM PDT

Transformation: what happens inside a chrysalis


You may be surprised to discover what actually goes on during the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. Of course we can't actually see inside of a chrysalis, but in the name of science people have on occasion taken apart a cocoon to see what's all the buzz during those mysterious days while a great change is occurring. And what they found is quite surprising.

A caterpillar inside a chrysalis actually digests its own body from the inside out, utilizing the same juices it used to digest food as a larva in order to break down its own body! The fluid breaks down the old caterpillar body into cells called imaginal cells, which are undifferentiated cells that can develop into any type of cell. These imaginal cells form the new body that becomes a butterfly. Can you imagine decomposing your body and creating a new one a matter of just a few days?

This transformation is called holometabolism and usually takes about two weeks. However some species will stay inside their cocoon for month in order to avoid winter. When they are finally ready to emerge after their unique body switch, they will cut their way out of the cocoon from the inside or secrete fluids that soften the cocoon and make it easier to escape.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
OCT 22, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
OCT 22, 2020
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
Nuclear fusion is the frontier of energy research, and NASA has a plan to bring this state-of-the-art power source to th ...
OCT 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Water Found on Moon Enough to Sustain a Lunar Base
OCT 29, 2020
Water Found on Moon Enough to Sustain a Lunar Base
For the first time, scientists have found water on the moon's sunlit surface. Coupled with other evidence of water i ...
FEB 19, 2021
Plants & Animals
Group of Migrating Gray Whales Makes a Puget Sound Pitstop
FEB 19, 2021
Group of Migrating Gray Whales Makes a Puget Sound Pitstop
Washington’s Puget Sound is famously home to resident and transient orca pods. However, during their yearly migrat ...
FEB 24, 2021
Plants & Animals
Texas Freeze Caused Historic Sea Turtle Stranding Event
FEB 24, 2021
Texas Freeze Caused Historic Sea Turtle Stranding Event
In addition to the millions of humans who suffered through Texas' historic freeze last week, local wildlife also exp ...
MAY 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Small Galaxies Played Key Role in Evolution of the Universe
MAY 01, 2021
Small Galaxies Played Key Role in Evolution of the Universe
Astrophysicists from the University of Minnesota have found evidence for the theory that small galaxies emitting high-en ...
MAY 23, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
MAY 23, 2021
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
Current theories suggest that stars undergo changes on timescales of millions or billions of years, and that their end i ...
Loading Comments...