Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

The Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle image displays the four stages of the monarch life cycle arranged in a circle. Arrows pointing clockwise (left to right) connect the four stages to demonstrate the progression from one life stage to the next. Text on the image and appearing when you pass your mouse cursor over one of the life cycle stages describes the monarch life cycle's stages and events.

Egg

Adult Monarchs lay one small egg on an individual milkweed plant. The egg is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Image of a monarch butterfly egg on a milkweed leaf.

Larva

Progressing from egg to adult takes about one month depending on temperature. Larvae consume a lot of milkweed and grow very rapidly. The grow so fast, they need to shed their skin five times before they pupate.

Image of a monarch larva, or caterpillar, on a milkweed leaf.

Pupa

Monarch larvae transform into pupa, also known as a chrysalis. The pupa turns to a jade color with gold markings. The chrysalis becomes clear just prior to emergence.

Image including four pictures of a chrysalis as it matures from an opaque jade color, the chrysalis becoming clearer, until it is transparent with the soon-to-emerge monarch visible inside.

Adult

Monarch wings are folded in the chrysalis. The monarch must pump up its wings using fluid stored in its abdomen. Monarchs live from two to five weeks before reproducing and laying eggs of the next generation.

Image of an adult monarch butterfly sitting on a pink flower.