The length of a caterpillar's life varies tremendously and depends upon its species, but most caterpillars stay in their larval stage for a few months before entering a cocoon. They then emerge from this pupae stage as moths or butterflies.
The life spans of some caterpillars deviate significantly from the norm. The painted lady, for example, spends only about four weeks as a caterpillar, while the fox moth often stays in the caterpillar stage for up to five years before entering its cocoon. The arctic-dwelling woolly bear caterpillar holds the record for the longest larval stage and spends up to 14 years as a caterpillar. The woolly bear's longevity comes from its arctic habitat, which causes it to spend most of its life frozen in stasis.