MAR 31, 2017 04:25 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
SEP 17, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 17, 2018
How Common Are Planetary Collisions?
Outer space is nothing short of a galactic free-for-all. Space rocks fly in virtually every direction, sporadically impacting larger objects like moons, pl...
SEP 24, 2018
Videos
SEP 24, 2018
Restaurants use psychology to make you spend more money
Have you ever gone out to a restaurant and ended up ordering way more than you expected to, only to get the bill at the end of dinner and be totally blinds...
SEP 25, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 25, 2018
Japan Put Two Landers On An Asteroid for Science
Japanese space agency JAXA recently made history after its Hayabusa 2 mission approached the asteroid 162173 Ryugu and dumped off two landers to study the ...
SEP 26, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 26, 2018
Musical Instrument-inspired Chemical Sensor
The connections between art and science are everywhere. To find them one needs a pair of curiosity-driven eyes, or ears. According to a recent article in t...
OCT 08, 2018
Technology
OCT 08, 2018
The SolarFlower is a Promising New Take on Solar Energy
Solar energy is a clean and renewable energy source with promising applications in the near future as solar panel technology matures. SmartFlower is an int...
OCT 14, 2018
Videos
OCT 14, 2018
Counteracting Plastic Straws by Using Plant Fibers
According to the United Nations, ocean plastics kill an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually—and straws are much to blame. Already, the state of...
Loading Comments...