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
BA Environmental Studies
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
NOV 06, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The Most Powerful X-ray Source On Earth
NOV 06, 2020
The Most Powerful X-ray Source On Earth
Located inside the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Z Pulsed Power Facility (or Z Machine) i ...
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
FEB 20, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
FEB 20, 2021
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
NASA scientists have confirmed that their car-sized Perseverance Mars rover is 'healthy' following its arrival o ...
MAR 18, 2021
Space & Astronomy
There May Be More Water-Rich Planets than Previously Thought
MAR 18, 2021
There May Be More Water-Rich Planets than Previously Thought
Researchers have hypothesized that a certain mechanism may mean there are many more water-rich planets with atmospheres ...
MAR 26, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Iconic Bald Eagles are Thriving
MAR 26, 2021
Iconic Bald Eagles are Thriving
Once dangerously on the brink of extinction, bald eagle populations are thriving throughout the lower 48 states of the U ...
JUN 24, 2021
Space & Astronomy
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
JUN 24, 2021
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
Modern spacecraft are typically made out of carbon fiber composites. Now, however, the European Space Agency has announc ...
Loading Comments...