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DIY Butterfly Life Cycle

Every kid learns about butterflies and how they go into a cocoon as a caterpillar and emerge a beautiful butterfly. But, can you name the stages of this well-known but still miraculous transformation? Developing through four stages of life, butterflies transform through a process called metamorphosis - also known as the butterfly life cycle.

Learning about butterflies is fascinating. Learning about their egg-to-air journey while creating and crafting is even better! Let's get started! 

Materials Needed:

  • Cardboard
  • Paper plate
  • A stick
  • Green cardstock (2 different shades)
  • White cardstock
  • White paint
  • Colored Markers
  • Black marker (can be permanent)

Step One

Draw out a caterpillar and butterfly. Or, print out a template and cut out your shapes. Grab some colored markers and color as bright as you can! After your critters are fully colored, you'll want to set them aside.

Step Two

Grab your paper plate and lay down the first stage of the life cycle: the egg. To make your 'egg', simply glue a small white circle on the darker green leaf (feel free to use a real leaf!).

Step Three

Next, glue your colorful caterpillar a quarter-of-a-plate away. The caterpillar stage is the second stage in the butterfly life cycle!

Step Four

Time for maybe the most famous stage of the butterfly life cycle: the chrysalis! Grab a stick and draw out a chrysalis on light green paper. Glue your chrysalis on top of the stick, and then glue the stick to the plate. Place the chrysalis another quarter-turn of the plate away from the caterpillar.

Step Five

Finally, it's time to fly! Glue your butterfly to the last open section of your paper plate. 

Step Six

Once each butterfly life cycle stage is glued down, label each life cycle (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly) and draw arrows from each stage to the next to complete the butterfly life cycle diagram. 

Fun Fact: After 2-3 weeks the butterfly will lay an egg and the life cycle will repeat itself. Did you know the average lifespan of a butterfly is only about a month? Some species only live about a week, while others live for 9 months or longer.

Let's learn more about each life cycle stage!

  • Egg - The cycle begins when a female butterfly lays her egg, usually on a leaf or plant stem. Depending on the butterfly species, the egg will hatch within a few weeks or when warmer weather appears. The egg can also be a different shape or texture depending on the type of species as well! How cool is that?
  • Caterpillar - Once the caterpillar is ready to enter the big outside world, these critters eat their way out of the egg and chomp on the host plant. The caterpillar will shed its skin four or fives times during this stage. Once the skin becomes too tight it splits open and reveals a large skin underneath. Did you know a caterpillar can grow 100 times bigger than when it first emerged from its egg?
  • Chrysalis - As the caterpillar becomes fully grown, it transforms into a chrysalis or "pupa" - which is a vessel for the caterpillar to develop into a butterfly. A hardened case will form around the caterpillar to protect it from predators and weather. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait long. It only takes 1-2 weeks for most butterfly species to develop! 
  • Butterfly - Once the butterfly is ready to emerge from the chrysalis, the case will split open. At first, the butterfly's wings will be wet, soft, and wrinkled. It will have to wait until its wings are dry. Butterflies also pump a liquid, called hemolymph, through their wings to help them expand. Soon, the butterfly is ready to take off! Flying through the air it will search for flowers to feed on and other butterflies to mate with to start the life cycle all over again! 
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    Tag us on social so we can see which butterfly species you've chosen for your butterfly life cycle!

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