Butterflies go through a complete metamorphosis. Many insects go through metamorphosis, not just butterflies. Beetles, wasps, lady bugs, and many others hatch from an egg in a larval stage, pupate, and finally metamorphosis into an adult stage.
Alright, now for finding the harder to spot stages of a butterfly’s life cycle. An adult butterfly lays its eggs on host plants. A host plant is the plant that a caterpillar eats. To find eggs you must look very closely at the leaves of plants. Butterfly eggs are as tiny as a pencil dot!
After being an egg for about 2 weeks or so, the caterpillar, or larva, will hatch. Caterpillars are ridiculously small when they hatch, it is hard to even see them when they are little, but they grow quickly, eating constantly and shedding their skin, or soft exoskeleton, with each stage or instar of growth. As they grow, caterpillars have a wide range of defenses to keep them safe from predator. When they are big and fat, they wander off, often away from their host plant, and find a place to make their chrysalis.
Look around the wooden frames that hold the screen walls of the butterfly house. Often this is where you might spot a chrysalis. This is the pupa stage of the life cycle. Many caterpillars have well camouflaged chrysalises, that means they blend into their surroundings really well. Some even look just like a scrap of bark!
Take some time to look around the butterfly house for all these stages, but please remember to stay on the paved path and do not touch any creatures you find.