Photograph of a paint blot butterfly

Summer Butterfly Challenge

(c) Matt Lowe

We love a good butterfly in the Museum. Now is a great time to go out spotting them in your local green space. But have you ever had a go at making a butterfly? With their beautiful colourful wings and fluttering shapes, they are the perfect inspiration for your next artwork. And we would love to see any that you create. Send us your creations and you could be featured in our Online Community Gallery and entered into a prize draw for a Wildlife Explorer Kit, filled with goodies to learn about our local wildlife.

How to enter our Summer Butterfly Challenge

You can enter by:

  1. Sending us a picture of the butterfly you make by email to umzc@zoo.cam.ac.uk (with the subject line Butterfly Competition) or
  2. Tagging us on social media and use the hashtag #MuseumButterflies.
  3. Entries close on Tuesday 1 September, and we will inform the winners by the end of Septmber.

The Museum will only use any personal data provided to inform you if you have been successful in the prize draw. They will not be shared with anyone else. For more details about how we handle your personal information and your rights under data protection legislation please see the University’s Information Compliance pages: https://www.information-compliance.admin.cam.ac.uk/.    

Competition winners:

The competition has now closed, thank you to everyone who took part. We are please to announce Jasmine, age 9, as our Summer Butterfly Challenge winner!

Runners up:

By Amara
By Sienna, age 7


Butterfly make inspiration:

You can create your butterfly in any way you choose. Want some inspiration? Here are a few ideas:

Butterfly Mosaic

bright collaged butterfly craft

Did you know that butterfly wings are covered in tiny scales? These give them their colours and patterns. Take inspiration from nature and have a go at designing and collaging your own butterfly. We have three templates to choose from, each the outline of a different type of British butterfly: the peacock, the comma, and the holly blue.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Print out your outline on paper or thin card
  2. Find some colourful magazines,newspapers or wrapping paper to recycle. Cut into small squares or rectangles to make the scales for your butterfly wings.
  3. Using a glue stick or PVA glue, create your pattern from these paper squares like a mosaic on your butterfly wings.
  4. Cut round your butterfly and you’re finished. You could also add some thread or strips of paper for antennae on its head.
opening collaged butterfly wings

Idea: Why not collage both sides of your butterfly? The undersides of a butterfly’s wings are often very different to the top surface – think of the brown underside of a peacock butterfly, or the green speckled pattern on the underside of an orange-tip butterfly. When the wings of these butterflies are closed they are camouflaged so can hide from predators.

(This activity is part of Summer at the Museums by the University of Cambridge Museums. Find activities from other museums on their website.)

Paint Splat Butterfly

Photograph of a paint blot butterfly

Want to have a symmetrical pattern, with both sides of your butterfly looking the same? Why not try a paint blot butterfly print? You will need to put some newspaper down as this can get messy. Put some splodges of paint (poster paint works well for this) on one side of your butterfly. Then fold your paper in half along the body and press down. Peel the two sides of your paper apart and you should have matching wings. Leave to dry.

LEGO Butterfly

Get creative with your LEGO at home and see if you can create a butterfly like this. Which species will you chose – peacock? Orange tip? Common blue?

Find out more about butterflies

Explore the blog and you can find lots of posts about butterflies. See our top 10 spots in our Watching Summer Wildlife post in Nature Classroom. See details of the main groups of butterflies in the UK with posts Museum Research Assistant Matt Hayes and others with the tag Butterfly. And watch Matt as he shows some of these in this video put together for our online Zoology Live festival earlier this year.


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