Did You See This?

A Caterpillar Begins Its Metamorphosis

In beautiful, slightly weird high-definition video.

It only takes about five minutes for a caterpillar to shed its skin, revealing its chrysalis form as it prepares to pupate and become a butterfly. This HD video by Allen Miller provides an amazing ringside seat for the process in action.

As the video begins, the caterpillar has already attached a silken pad to the screen mesh above and twisted its own cremaster—a hooked appendage—into the pad, securing its hanging position. The caterpillar’s undulations allow it to slowly wiggle free, bit by bit, until the skin—now a dark, wrinkled ball of old laundry—drops away. If all goes well, a butterfly emerges, or “ecloses,” about 10 days to two weeks later. It’ll be a beautiful monarch butterfly.

Correction, Sept. 25, 2017: This post originally misstated how long the caterpillars in the video pupate.