The Marbled Emperor is quite a large beautiful moth. As a caterpillar it does not look anything like this. We all know the caterpillar goes into a cocoon and comes out as a butterfly or moth. But the question is: what happens inside the cocoon during that time?
The process is called Metamorphosis, a stage in the insect’s life where there is rapid change in the body cells which results in its changing shape but also sometimes even its diet! Interestingly enough, we should be sure not to touch a cocoon because the insect is vulnerable during this stage. In the cocoon the caterpillar essentially degenerates and all that is left inside there is a liquid with the internal organs of the insect floating around. Then the body starts to reform into the shape of the next stage, i.e. a butterfly or moth. With this come the appropriate body parts – including the legs, antennae and wings. Once all appendages have been formed the insect breaks free of its cocoon and… that is the creature we see.
It remains a truly amazing process – a caterpillar literally turns into a beautiful butterfly or moth!