Iridescent Insects

Iridescent Insects lesson plan

Fascinated with animal feathers, scales, and shells that seem to change color when they move? Create your own naturally iridescent insect colors!

  • 1.

    Have you noticed that some insects, birds, or fish seem to change color as they move? What you see is the light hitting the surface and ultraviolet rays bouncing back from different angles. If the animal’s covering (scales, shells, or feathers) reflects light at several different angles, they are often iridescent.

  • 2.

    Look for pictures of insects that have one main color, but seem to reflect different colors when they move. What are some of your favorite Iridescent Insects? Choose one that appeals to you.

  • 3.

    Use Crayola® Scissors to cut the insect’s shape out of construction paper that is the main color of the insect. Add six construction paper legs.

  • 4.

    Glue your insect to white paper with a Crayola Glue Stick.

  • 5.

    Use a white Crayola Gel Marker to fill in areas where you see iridescent colors on your insect. Color over the marker with the appropriate color of Crayola Gel Markers.

  • 6.

    Use Crayola Glitter Glue to highlight iridescent areas. Air-dry flat before displaying.


  • Children recognize the relationship between color and reflected ultraviolet light in iridescent insects and other animals.
  • Children examine specimens or pictures of iridescent insects.
  • Children create iridescent insect art.


  • Visit an insect zoo. Make sketches of insects that have unusual markings or features, such as iridescence.
  • Find other examples of iridescence as they occur in nature (bubbles, birds, tropical fish). Add paint to bubbles and print the bubbles as they pop. Are the bubble colors still iridescent? Why or why not?
  • Explore how light and color are interrelated. What is color? How does reflection work?