On the outside, it appears as if I’m just a blob hanging on a twig. Yet this is when I really soar – even though I don’t have wings just yet. In fact, I don’t have any body parts to speak of – no legs, no eyes, no antennae, not even a mouth. I’m basically caterpillar mush.
My metamorphosis begins as soon as I hang upside down from a branch in order to drop my last caterpillar skin. The juices that used to help me digest my food are now eating me, turning all of my tissues into caterpillar juice. It’s not a pretty sight! Yet hidden deep inside of this brew are tiny sets of cells called “imaginal buds.”
I’ve had these imaginal buds since I was an egg. They just hung around in my body awaiting the big change, the transformation into a butterfly that would one day begin. Once I begin to metamorphose, these cells wake up and are as hungry as a caterpillar. They chow down on all of my old parts that are now caterpillar mush. They grow, divide, and keep growing at turbo-race-car speed.
Six imaginal buds will become my legs, two buds will become my antennae and four buds will become my wings. (Perhaps that is why I kept having those dreams about flying!) And then even more buds will become all the rest of me.
So this metamorphosis is pretty amazing stuff. By the time I’ve turned into a butterfly, I will be an entirely different being. It’s like putting your dog to bed one night and the next morning it’s a giraffe!
Thank you for visiting me in this life. It probably didn’t look like a lot was happening but, as you can see, looks can be deceiving. Now see what unfolds in my next and final life!