A chrysalis is the form a caterpillar takes before it emerges from its cocoon as a fully formed moth or butterfly. The chrysalis has hard skin that's left behind after the caterpillar sheds its soft outer skin.

Besides forming itself into a chrysalis, a caterpillar is also able to spin a kind of sticky silk for attaching itself to a branch or leaf. The often gold-colored chrysalis stays attached while undergoing further transformation toward becoming a butterfly. Chrysalis comes from the Greek khrysallis, "golden pupa of the butterfly," from khrysos, "gold."

Definitions of chrysalis

n pupa of a moth or butterfly enclosed in a cocoon

Type of:
an insect in the inactive stage of development (when it is not feeding) intermediate between larva and adult

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