Butterfly Flash and Dazzle

Gulf Fritillary butterflies, one with wings open and another with wings closed.

By: Caroline Thrasher and Diana Sanchez 

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Suggested for all ages (with grown-up help for early learners, elementary age, and younger).

Some butterflies, like the Blue Morpho, use a technique called “flash and dazzle” to evade predators. By having different colors on the top (dorsal) sides and the bottom (ventral) sides of their wings, they can confuse predators as they fly. For many butterflies, their ventral side is made of neutral colors like black, brown, white, and grey. When they rest, they close their wings and camouflage or blend in with their surroundings. If they are disturbed while resting, they can “flash” their brightly colored wings to startle a predator so that they can safely get away. 

Use our butterfly template to create your very own “flash and dazzle” butterfly. Then, follow the steps below to help your butterfly flap its wings. 

F&D activity - image of supplies
List of Materials
  • Butterfly template (Click Here)
  • Two straws (craft will work best with at least one straw that is paper or plastic).
    • 1 straw should be slightly thicker than the other and about ½ inch shorter than the thinner straw. 
    • Don’t have a straw? No problem! Follow these steps to make one: tightly wrap a piece of paper around two pens, markers, or pencils. Make sure one is thicker than the other. Secure paper with tape, and slide out the pen. The tighter you wrap the paper the better!
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Additional materials: crayons, coloring pencils, paint, glitter, anything you have at home to decorate your butterfly.
  • Optional materials: ruler
Step by Step Instructions (how-to)
F&D step 1 - fold template in half

1. Take the butterfly template and fold the page in half. 

F&D step 2 - cut out template

2. Using scissors, cut out the butterfly. You can choose to cut along either dotted line. Guardians may need to help younger children with the scalloped edge.

F&D step 3 - fold along dotted line

3. Fold along the dotted line inside the butterfly to create a crease. 

F&D step 4 - decorate exterior with neutral tones

4. Decorate this side of the wings (which will be the ventral/bottom side) with neutral tones like black, brown, white. If you are using “wet” materials like paint or markers, make sure to let your decorations completely dry before the next step!

F&D step 5 - flip over, decorate other side

5. Flip over and repeat step 4. 

F&D step 6 - unfold, decorate interior with bright colors

6. Open up your butterfly and decorate the wings on this side (dorsal/top side) with bright colorful tones. Blue morphos are known for their bright blue wings!

F&D step 7 - glue inner blank square, fold, and let dry

7. Take your glue and glue inside the blank square and fold your butterfly in half once again. Let the glue completely dry. 

F&D step 8 - cut 1/2 inch slit in the thin straw

8. As the glue dries, take the thin straw and cut a short (half inch) slit.

F&D step 9 - insert butterfly into slit, tape down

9. Insert the butterfly into the slit and secure with tape to the butterfly “body.”

F&D step 10 - make thicker straw 1/2 inch shorter than the thinner straw

10. Take the thicker straw and make sure it is about ½ inch shorter than the thinner straw. 

F&D step 11 - flatten one side of straw 3 inches, cut a straight line that length

11. Flatten one side of the thicker straw about three inches down. Carefully cut a straight line, about three inches deep. 

F&D step 12 - insert thin straw into thick straw, tape straw to wings

12. Insert the thinner straw into the large straw, where you just made your cut. Tape down the second straw to the wings. 

F&D step 13 - Flash and Dazzle butterfly complete!

13. Your butterfly is now ready to Flash and Dazzle!

Flash & Dazzle butterfly
Flash & Dazzle butterfly
Butterfly Flash and Dazzle