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    Talking about the metamorphosis proces yesterday, my daughter asked me if the caterpillar/butterfly inside the chrysalis breathes and how that works. Could anyone answer that question, perhaps.

    Also could in theory twin Butterflies emerge from 1 chrysalis? I don’t think so since one creature starts of the procedure. But I am not sure what actually happens with the genetic material in transition.

    So, are caterpillars then already male or female or are they neither or both???

    We are learning so much…… is great! Thanks in advance.

    Regards Esther.

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  • #17854


    Hi Esther

    I think the cuticle or shell of the chrysalis is indeed porous. That’s the part that the butterfly leaves behind when it emerges.



    But what about in the Chrysalis? Will there be any oxygen intake?? How does that happen if there is? Is the Chrysalis shell porous?

    Kind Regards Esther



    Swansong – you’re so right, a caterpillar’s sex can be determined by cutting open the caterpillar, so we suggest you awit until it’s in the pupa.

    Twins could never occur.

    Caterpillars don’t breathe as such – but as the caterpillar moves, the air goes in and out of the spiracles on their sides. The spiracles lead to tracheas (just like us) which takes the oxygen to all of the segments. The adult butterflies also have spiracles on the sides of their bodies.

    I’m sure if you google on spiracles you’ll learn lots more.

    Here’s a great site:

    And you’ve given me a great idea for a workshop at next year’s Conference, to be held in Tauranga. Will you be there?



    Mimi, it sure is a wonder of wonders! I’ve never heard of “twins” and I dont think this would happen either. For some reason it somehow seems it would be more a “freak” if anything like that happened.

    Good question on the pillars being male or female. I just looked at a link in another thread “Determining sex while in a Chrysalis” posted by macmonkey.

    It says that (PERISH THE THOUGHT) by dissecting a caterpillar apparently the sex can be determined. I hope they used one that already died from other causes : .


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