METAMORPHOSIS—CATERPILLAR TO LIQUID TO BUTTERFLY. Somebody told me yesterday that when a caterpillar is changing into a butterfly, the caterpillar doesn’t simply grow wings. Rather, it turns into liquid and then the liquid turns into a butterfly. I had never thought much about it, but I had always assumed that the caterpillar grew wings. Google basically confirms what I was told about the liquid stage for butterflies. But there are some insect species such as grasshoppers that conform to my mental image. This wikipedia article describes hemimetabolism (grasshoppers) and holometabolism (butterflies). With species like grasshoppers, “the differences between juveniles in different [stages] are small, often just differences in body proportions and the number of segments.” With butterflies, “the insect will excrete digestive juices, to destroy much of the larva’s body, leaving a few cells intact. The remaining cells will begin the growth of the adult, using the nutrients from the broken down larva.” Here is a more graphic description of the process which refers to “the building of a new body out of the soup that the insects digestive juices have made of the old larval body.”

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