Pretty Fly for a Butterfly

“Autobots – transform and roll out!” Similar to what Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and the rest of the Autobots go through in the Transformer movies, butterflies share similarities to the transformers. As a member of the Autobots, each of the Transformers goes from cars to super planet-saving robots. Insects, such as butterflies, undergo a similar transformation process. This transformation is called metamorphosis where they will transform from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. 

Butterfly life cycle

There are four stages in the life cycle of a butterfly where it will go through metamorphosis (1, 2). 

  • Egg: Starting life, an egg is laid on plants by female butterflies 
  • Caterpillar/Larva: During its hungry, hungry hippo stage all they do is eat 
  • Pupa/Chrysalis: Forming a cocoon, development occurs to form the butterfly  
  • Butterfly: Emerging from its cocoon, it will dry its wings and take flight 

After this process, the life cycle will start over from mating to further continue the “circle of life.”  

Monarch butterfly migration

After undergoing the metamorphosis stages, the monarch butterflies follow migration patterns to lead them to warmer climates if they are born during the fall. The monarch butterflies in North America can travel upwards of 3,000 miles headed to Mexico and Southern California during winter months and then back to their homes up north in the summer months (3). The trees that they migrate towards are where they will hibernate. In Mexico, this is the oyamel fir trees and in Southern California, it is the eucalyptus trees offering respite for the winter months (4). The site Journey North tracks the butterfly migration patterns during the spring and fall to see the striking clusters of the beautiful orange and black insects (5). 

Butterfly Effect & Chaos Theory

From the migration of butterflies, the flapping of butterfly wings has been discussed in the Chaos Theory. The “butterfly effect” breakdowns that small changes in one state can have a large impact in another. The impact is that if a butterfly flaps its wings in somewhere like California, it could have the potential to cause a monsoon in China (6). Meteorologist Edward Lorenz of MIT developed this concept which laid the foundations for the Chaos Theory by running a series of equations while analyzing weather patterns (7). 

Interesting Butterfly Facts

Here are some of our favorite facts about the transformative butterflies (8,9,10,11): 

  1. Many only live about two to four weeks
  2. Monarch butterflies migrate 3K+ miles
  3. Butterflies have taste sensors in their feet 
  4. There are 17.5K+ species of butterflies  
  5. Parts of the butterfly are the head, thorax, and abdomen 
  6. Fifty-five degrees is too cold for the butterfly to fly
  7. Butterflies don’t poop 
  8. The typical speed of a butterfly is five to twelve miles an hour 

Butterflies undergo the ultimate transformation of metamorphosis. Thanks for learning about the journey of the butterfly! Subscribe to our YouTube channel Woof of Mouth for other videos. 



  1. National Geographic. The Butterfly Life Cycle! Retrieved from
  2. The Academy of Natural Sciences.  Butterfly Life Cycle. Retrieved from
  3. Journey North. Monarch Butterflies. Retrieved from
  4. US Forest Service. Monarch Butterfly Migration. Retrieved from
  5. Monarch Butterfly. Monarch Butterfly Migration. Retrieved from
  6. Fractal Foundation. What is Chaos Theory? Retrieved from 
  7. Dizikes, Peter. (2011). MIT Technology Review. Retrieved from
  8. Hadley, Debbie. (2020). Ten Fascinating Facts About Butterflies. Retrieved from
  9. Molland, Julie. (2016). 10 Super Cool Facts About Butterflies. Retrieved from
  10. Blumhardt, Miles. (2018). Butterflies Don’t Poop, Taste with Their Feet and Other Amazing Facts. Retrieved from
  11. San Diego Zoo Kids. Butterfly Winged Wonders. Retrieved from

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