The blue morpho butterfly- named for its resplendent turquoise wings- lives in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America.
Kids love crafts, love glitter, and love butterflies! Making a blue morpho butterfly is an easy afternoon activity that helps kids learn about an amazing creature from the rainforests of the Americas. Before starting the craft, children can learn more about the morpho butterfly. This lesson goes well with a unit about the rainforests of Central and South America. When you take out your map, have the kids each trace the equator across the globe. Using their little hands, show them a couple of inches above and below the equator: this is called the tropics. The northern “border” is the Tropic of Cancer, and the southern “border” is the Tropic of Capricorn.
This area of the world has many tropical, wet zones that contain rainforests. Show your children Central and South America and explain that in this region there are many rainforests where the morpho butterflies live.
The morpho butterfly has a 6 inch wide wingspan, with a different pattern on the top side and underside of its wings. When its iridescent blue wings are open, the butterfly uses its shiny scales to blind and scare away predators. Underneath is brown camouflage, with “eye” patterns that allow it to blend into tree bark. In fact, the morpho butterfly spends most of its time on the forest floor and in the lower bushes and trees of the understory with its wings folded. Morpho butterflies use a proboscis (a long straw-like part of their mouth) to drink fluids from rotting and fermenting fruit. They can taste fruit with sensors on their legs, and they can smell the air for scents with their antennae, which serve as a tongue and nose. Although there are some natural predators (some birds, fish, spiders), the real threat to these amazing butterflies are humans and our destruction of the rainforest.
To make your own morpho butterfly, you will need:
blue and turquoise tissue paper
Have the kids draw a big V and a little v on their paper plates like this (see left). Cut on the lines for the outline of your morpho. Next, tear tissue paper into small pieces and glue them on the butterfly. After covering the butterfly in blue, use black paint to draw the body, and add details to the wings. Show children a picture of a real blue morpho butterfly for inspiration.
Mine decided that silver glitter was absolutely necessary, (which is why we moved the craft project outside:) and they also added white paper from our hole puncher after seeing the morphos white dots on the tips of their wings. Have fun making your mariposa morfo!