In Europe we know of more than 5000 species of butterflies. Many of them small and inconspicuous.
Few can compete with the beauty of tropical species.
But all of them share the fascinating transformation through these 4 different stages:

- the egg, the caterpillar, the pupae and the butterfly -

This development is called metamorphosis. Due to the interruption of the vegetation period in our climate area,
one of the 4 stages needs to hibernate.


The life cycle starts with the egg, which is laid by the butterfly on or in close vicinity to the larval food source.

Egg of the cabbage moth, Mamestra brassicae
eggs of the large white butterfly, Pieris brassicae
egg of the cabbage moth right befor hatching

The diversity of the different eggs in shape, colour and surface texture is impressing.

The cabbage moth, for example, oviposites on the bottom side of various cruciferae leaves, in batches of up to 800 pieces.

egg batch of the cabbage moth
egg batch of the large white butterfly
The large white butterfly also oviposites in batches on cruciferae, but is much more particular in choosing the larval food plant. If it has a choice, it prefers broccoli and cauliflower.

© Ltd, Microscopy-UK, and all contributors 1995 onwards. All rights reserved. Main site is at with full mirror at