Life History

Moths and butterflies undergo holometabolous development. Adults typically deposit their eggs, either singly or in clusters, on host plants, which serve as food for the larvae. Soon after egg hatch, the larvae begin feeding, usually on the leaves. They grow rapidly, molting 3 to 10 times, depending on the species, as they consume increasing quantities of foliage or other plant material. When time for pupation nears, most species leave the host plant, crawling or descending on a strand of silk to the ground, where they seek protected recesses in which to pupate. Others remain on the host plant. The larvae of most moths spin a protective silken cocoon in which pupation takes place. Cocoons may be attached to twigs and leaves or constructed under tree bark, under rocks or ground debris, in the soil or litter, and in other suitable sites. Larvae of moths which do not spin cocoons generally pupate in protected recesses or chambers which they excavate in the soil. The larvae of butterflies do not spin cocoons. Instead they transform into a naked pupa, or chrysalis, which usually hangs exposed on the host plant. Although most chrysalides are green, brown, or otherwise cryptically camouflaged, some are attractively colored or ornamented. Most lep-idopterans produce one generation per year, with a few taking two or more years to complete their development.

Overwintering usually occurs in the egg or pupal stage.

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