The amount of time a butterfly spends in its cocoon varies with the type of butterfly and environment conditions. The cocoon stage is the transformation from a caterpiller to a butterlfy, in which they make a silk cocoon where they undergo the development of wings. On average this porcess takes a few weeks, but can last anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks to over a month.
Technically, the pupa of a butterfly is called a chrysalis not a cocoon. A cocoon is the structure a moth spins out of silk for protection when it is in the pupa stage. The outer chrysalis is actually the exoskeleton of the pupa. The butterfly caterpiller will spin a silk button from which it hangs and then form a J-shape, causing its skin to split and fall off. This leaves the jade green chrysalis.
A monarch butterfly will spend about 8-12 days in chrysalis, depending on the temperature. Monarch butterflies typically live 2-6 weeks.
Another interesting fact about monarch butterflies is that the last generation of monarchs for the year actually lives the longest. These monarchs do not become sexually mature as soon as they mature as adults like the earlier generations of the year do. These monarchs will go into what is called reproductive diapause-they are unable to reproduce for the time being. When spring comes, they become sexually mature and reproduce the first generation of the year that makes their way north. The last generation of the year lives longer than normal monarch generations because they are not using their energy to reproduce and the cool temperatures of winter slows their metabolism down.
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