Caterpillars Don’t Become Butterflies!

I first learned about this phenomenon in 2005, then wrote about it in 2015. Despite the fact that I had very few followers at the time, it quickly became–and remains–the most widely read post I’ve ever written. Fifteen years have passed, but I still marvel at what this phenomenon reveals. Not only about caterpillars. But about us. 


Did you know that caterpillars are not “transformed” into butterflies? In metamorphosis (the name of the process), a caterpillar is liquefied. Only after its actual death can entirely new creature, a butterfly, emerge!

But most people’s image of the process is more like Eric Carle’s classic children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, in which the little caterpillar “makes a cocoon around himself the-very-hungry-caterpillar-480x270and goes to sleep, only to wake up a few weeks later wonderfully transformed into a butterfly!” (

The Very Dead Caterpillar would probably have sold fewer copies. But it would have been more accurate.

So what does happen? To read the remainder of the post, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Caterpillars Don’t Become Butterflies!

  1. Trev Jones says:

    Fascinating, Mitch. I never knew.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. varjakBaby says:

    Yeah man, caterpillars are wild. Insects to boot are wild.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. varjakBaby says:

    I knew they got liquefied but I never thought of it as a form of death.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. PaperKutzs says:

    interesting, learned something today.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Eliza Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dawn Renee says:

    Thank you for the new knowledge. It raises more questions. What a world!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. nitinsingh says:

    Informative, I don’t know anything about this 🤔🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lesley says:

    That’s incredible! God’s creation is wonderful and I am particularly fascinated by “creepy crawlies”. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ha! We could have so much fun with those children’s stories, Mitch! The Very Dead Caterpillar, The Liquified Caterpillar, and Caterpillar Soup! Love it! You do make a really good point about metamorphosis, total transformation, a completely new creature being created from that soup.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Kim Smyth says:

    Yep, it’s true you really do learn something new every day! I did not know they turned into liquid and were totally reborn. And I don’t know if I’m ready for a total transformation yet, heck, I’m just trying to decide what to write today, where to go, what to do, and can I stop this vaping habit before they ban my favorite flavor! I know I need to quit, but cigarettes were the first step, after them I started vaping about five years ago. Now on Feb 4th I just found out, they will ban all but tobacco and menthol flavors of the type of pods I use. That means it’s time to make a choice, learn to love a new flavor or quit. Obviously, even though I know the right choice to make, I’m not quite ready yet to take that step.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. tidalscribe says:

    I am shocked – you’ll be telling us next that caterpillars don’t eat chocolate cake!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Not going to lie, this is so fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pam Dollard says:

    Mitch, I love a good metaphor as much as the next person, but this post, while roughly true, perpetuates some untruth as well. Since your metaphor is dependent on the actual death of the caterpillar, which is not really true, it matters. I refer you to this short, non-technical article from Scientific American, which explains that while most of the caterpillar’s tissues are liquified, key portions of it are not, that is, they remain alive, therefore, the caterpillar does not die. If the caterpillar did truly die, there would be no butterfly. Not trying to be nit-picky, but truth matters, as I am confident that you would agree. Sincerely Pam Dollard



    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Thanks, Pam! I’ve read quite a few articles on the subject, including this one. They never actually say the caterpillar doesn’t die, rather they say that “something is left” (imaginal discs) from the caterpillar that starts the process of rebirth. I would argue that that is still the death of the caterpillar. Of course, the metaphor doesn’t hang on that distinction, but I think the term “death” is accurate, both metaphorically and scientifically. If a human being was put in a giant blender and liquified, and an entirely new creature was made using some of the DNA left floating in the goop, I believe that would qualify by almost any definition as a rebirth.


  14. smzang says:

    Mitch, I liked it before and I like it again. Primordial and Eternal.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. shobhna says:

    Wow. Did not know about the liquidification process before. That’s quite the cycle of life. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. gpavants says:


    Dying to our old life, made to rise a new in Christ. Jesus brings life to everything especially dead things.

    Thank you,


    Liked by 1 person

  17. This and the other posts on the Butterfly are a mere reflection of how Life goes on. Or, is it that we fit into Life to understand the process of continuance. All the Mysteries are answered when one chooses to seek them. Keep that in the deep.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it…melted.” A tad less motivational I suppose 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow, childhood beliefs blown all to pieces. I also read the other day that one kind of rattlesnake does not strike, but simply stands its ground and looks vicious unless you move in too close. Well, who wants to give it a try. This was not the standard rattlesnake, and I honestly cannot remember its location or name in the U.S. but it wasn’t way out West. Perhaps best not to find out for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Geri says:

    Fascinating. I can see why it was such a popular post. Thanks for the revealing information.

    Liked by 1 person

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