A chrysalis is the middle stage of a butterfly’s metamorphosis, between the larvae (caterpillar) and the adult stage (butterfly).

The chrysalis is the hard shell that caterpillars form as an outer layer of protection while it turns into a butterfly.

What Is Metamorphosis?

Metamorphosis is how an animal’s body physically changes after birth. The most commonly known change is that of a caterpillar into a butterfly, although many other animals, including fish, mollusks, and amphibians, go through a metamorphosis during their life.

What Are The Three Stages Of a Caterpillar/Butterfly’s Metamorphosis?


Larvae: The caterpillar

Pupa: The chrysalis stage

Adult: The butterfly

Do All Caterpillars Turn Into Butterflies?

Not all caterpillars will turn into butterflies, but all go through metamorphosis!

A caterpillar will either turn into a butterfly or a moth during its pupal stage, depending on the caterpillar species.

A few types of caterpillars that turn into butterflies are:

The Monarch butterfly caterpillar

Spicebush swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

Zebra Longwing butterfly caterpillar

Caterpillars that turn into moths:

Hickory horned devil – regal moth

Puss caterpillar – Southern Flannel Moths

Saddleback caterpillar moth

What Is A Chrysalis Made of? How Do Caterpillars Make Them?

A chrysalis is made of a hardened layer of skin that the caterpillar forms under its top layer. When the caterpillar is ready for metamorphosis, it will spin a little bit of silk and attach it to a tree or leaf. From there, it will latch onto the silk and wiggle its way out of its top layer of skin. Eventually, the chrysalis will be free of the caterpillar’s skin, and the hard shell will harden even more.

How Does The Butterfly Get Out Of The Chrysalis?

The butterfly will use a liquid to soften the shell when it’s done forming. Then it uses the sharp claws on its legs and wings to pull apart the chrysalis from the inside.

What is the difference between a Chrysalis, Cacoon, and Pupa?

A chrysalis and a cacoon are both different types of pupa.

The difference between a cacoon and a chrysalis is the type of bug hatched from it.

A cacoon turns into a moth, while a chrysalis turns a butterfly.

Fun facts about butterflies and caterpillars

  • The transformation inside the chrysalis can range from a few days to as long as a year!
  • Caterpillars have six eyes
  • Caterpillars don’t have lungs! They breathe through a spiracle
  • The movement of a caterpillar is unlike any other animal! It is a wave-like motion from the back to the front
  • The color on the wings of a butterfly is made out of tiny scales
  • There are around 17,500 named species of butterflies
  • Butterflies flap all their wings at the same time at about five beats per second
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