For centuries, butterflies have been a symbol of transformation, change and rebirth.
More so, butterflies have life stages that relate to the stages of long-term food problems in humans. Butterfly eggs are laid on the undersides of tender leaves. The baby caterpillar has strong jaws and sharp teeth. It begins life by chewing its way out of its egg and from a very early age, it eats – and it eats a lot. It eats large amounts of leaves, buds and even whole plants.
As it grows, it sheds its tight skin and creates new ones, just as many compulsive eaters shed one size of clothing for larger and still larger sizes. A baby caterpillar can increase its size by more than one thousand times because of its eating expertise.
After several days or weeks of eating large amounts of food, shedding its skins and searching for more food, something strange begins to happen inside the caterpillar causing the overeating of green leaves to no longer be enough.
It seems she has come to a turning point and is unsatisfied. So she finds a safe, supportive branch for shelter. Spinning a web of silk completely around herself – she anchors herself onto the stem.
What comes next is one of the most dramatic metamorphoses in nature. The last skin is shed to become a hard, translucent shell called a chrysalis that encloses the caterpillar. In the chrysalis, the body of the wormlike caterpillar virtually dissolves and is reorganized to form the glorious butterfly – a universal symbol of freedom, grace and flamboyance.
This rebirth is a critical time when the butterfly is most vulnerable to predators as her wings dry and expand. She continues to need the safety and protection of her branch.
No longer will she chew on leaves. Eventually she emerges and in flight searches for sweet blossoms to drink from and to pollinate. She has been reborn into the beautiful winged creature she was always intended to be.
This rebirth is a critical time when the butterfly is most vulnerable to predators and still needs the safety and protection of her leaf.