The life cycle of the butterfly is one of nature’s wonders

There are between 17,000 and 20,000 different species of butterfly in the world, many of them very beautiful.

A chrysalis
A chrysalis (Credit: Public Domain Images)

Unlike most insects, which go through a three-stage metamorphosis – egg, pupa, mature insect — butterfly metamorphosis is a four-stage process. It begins when a female butterfly lays her eggs, from which the caterpillars hatch. A caterpillar is very hungry and will feed on plants for a while, the time varying with the species.

After a while, the caterpillar spins a cocoon around itself and becomes a chrysalis (or pupa). It is then left hanging by a thread from a plant, but inside the chrysalis something amazing is happening — the caterpillar’s body dissolves and becomes a kind of soup with no trace of the caterpillar’s original body organs — legs, antennae, etc — remaining. After a while the cocoon splits open and a butterfly emerges, with beautiful wings, ready to fly away! It will then lay eggs, and the whole cycle will be repeated.

Monarch butterfly
The monarch butterfly (Credit: Pixabay)

How could gradual change cause the body of a butterfly, which is totally different from that of a caterpillar, to emerge from that ‘soup’? A butterfly isn’t at all like a caterpillar, yet all the genetic instructions for this four-stage life cycle are in the butterfly’s eggs.

Darwin’s theory of evolution simply can’t explain the origin of this life cycle. He wrote: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

The genetic instructions for the whole complex process of metamorphosis must have been programmed in the DNA of the butterfly’s tiny eggs – and it obviously had to work the first time!

Butterfly life cycle
(Credit: Public Domain Images)

The fossil evidence shows that butterflies have not evolved from any other kind of insect. Fossils dated at “45 million years old” are much like their modern counterparts. The only logical explanation is that they were created in the beginning with all the information already in their genome. Truly a witness to God, our Creator!

Geoff Chapman leads the Creation Resources Trust. Find out more about creation and evolution at