Activity | Butterflies In the Air | Desert Botanical Garden


Butterflies come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Can you guess the butterfly that travels long distances (migration) from north to south America and back? That’s right, it’s the Monarch butterfly. The monarch butterfly has bright orange wings covered with black lines and has black boarder with white dots on their wings. These butterflies’ bright colors serve as a warning to tell predators to not eat them because they are poisonous.


To start their life cycle, an adult monarch butterfly lays its eggs on the leaves of the milkweed plant in spring and summer. Scientists call this plant a host plant when it is hosting the butterfly eggs.  These eggs are so little that you might not see them at first glance. The eggs hatch in a few days and enter the next stage of their life cycles as caterpillars. When they are in the caterpillar stage, they eat a lot. Think of your favorite food. Now, imagine eating that food as much as you want for a whole month. That is what the monarch caterpillar does. They eat milkweed plant leaves until they enter the chrysalis phase of their life cycle. The milkweed plant is toxic to most insects but monarch butterflies are able to utilize the toxins of the milkweed plant to prevent other animals from eating them. In the chrysalis phase the caterpillar spends about two weeks transforming into an adult butterfly by forming a hard shell around its body that usually hangs from a leaf or twig. When they are ready, they break through the hard shell of the chrysalis and emerge as a butterfly. They will then hang upside-down on the chrysalis or a nearby surface to dry their wings until they can flap them to fly away in search of sweet milkweed flower liquid called nectar. 


Create your very own mariposa with this fun activity. Make a colorful butterfly out of some basic household items. Coffee filter butterflies are great for children of all ages and their families. For this activity you will need a tray or plate, water soluble markers, water, eye dropper or spray bottle, two coffee filters and a pipe cleaner.



1.     Place both coffee filters on top of each other.
2.     Flatten out the coffee filters as much as you can.
3.     Place the coffee filters on to the tray or plate.
4.     Color your coffee filters using markers.
5.     Fill your eye dropper with water (or spray bottle).
6.     Drip or spray a little bit of water at a time onto the coffee filter until you see the colors begin to blend. (Don’t add too much as it might make your colors muddy and take the coffee filter a while to dry)
7.     Place the coffee filter’s outside and let completely dry.
8.     After the coffee filters are dry, separate the two filters.
9.     Fold each coffee filter accordion style.
10.  Put the two folded strips on top of each other. 
11.  Twist the pipe cleaner around the middle of the coffee filter and have the two ends point upward.
12.  Curl each end of the pipe cleaner to make a small spiral.

13.  Pull apart the folds of the coffee filter to open up the wings of the butterfly. 


Don’t forget to share your creations with Desert Botanical Garden on social media @dbgphx

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