19 butterflies before and after metamorphosis

These superb photos of caterpillars and their transformation into butterflies are the stuff of art.

The animal kingdom is full of beautiful and mysterious processes, but few are more captivating and admirable than the metamorphoses caterpillars undergo to become butterflies. Perhaps even more astonishing than the transformation itself is how it happens.

Once the caterpillar has reached adult size, it weaves the silk it produces into a cocoon, which it then transforms into a chrysalis. It can take several months for the butterfly to emerge, living only a few days. During pupation, the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. The nymph lives on its reserves and does not feed. But inside, it’s a real upheaval: the caterpillar’s organs reorganize to adapt to the butterfly’s future life. The brain and eyes enlarge, the antennae lengthen, the mandibles shrink and the proboscis develops. Finally, the digestive tract becomes very small and the reproductive organs appear.

Emergence is when the butterfly hatches from the chrysalis. The butterfly will first inhale great gulps of air to inflate its abdomen and cause the chrysalis to give way. Once its wings have stiffened, it will let them dry, and 1 or 2 hours later, it will be ready to fly.

What’s really interesting is that many of these caterpillars are almost as impressive, if not more so, than their butterfly counterparts. Their vivid markings and shapes often serve as protection, warning of their poisonous nature. Here are 19 of the most beautiful caterpillar-to-butterfly transformations:

Brahmaeidae

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Cecropia

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Papilio troilus

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Celery butterfly

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Polyura sempronius

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Acraga coa

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Acharia stimulea

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Phobetron pithecium

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Greta oto

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Queue fourchue

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Cat caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis)

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Morpho blue

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Isochaetes beutenmuelleri

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Hubbard silkworm

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Isa textula

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Battus philenor

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Apatelodes torrefacta

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Automeris io

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Attacus atlas

Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons Suberpes photos de la transformation de chenilles en papillons

Sources: Bored Panda, Jardin aux Papillons