Butterflies! (Insect Lore Review)

My in-laws got my kids this awesome butterfly kit by Insect Lore for Christmas. They were super excited but of course we had to wait a little while until the weather was warmer/nicer…even though they may not have realized, I just couldn’t bring myself to release butterflies when they wouldn’t make it through the night. Of course we did have to open it up and check everything out. Did I take pictures of the packaging and all? Nope. Oh well. I’m a terrible blogger/reviewer, remember? I’m just a normal mom sharing normal stuff!

Anyway, our kit came in a nice box with lots of pictures, which my kids studied enthusiastically, and, the coolest part, this pop up mesh habitat! It also came with a voucher for a cup of five live caterpillars. I would strongly suggest this package as a gift, so the recipient can chose when to receive the live caterpillars. While the caterpillars are “free”, there is an additional shipping charge (plus, we opted for the rush shipping since it was getting pretty warm outside).

So when the caterpillars arrive, they are very tiny and in this small cup. It has food on the bottom…you don’t need to do anything but observe them! It also comes with full instructions for care and feeding for the butterflies. My kids checked on them every day and it was so cool to see them grow bigger, crawl around, etc. After about a week, they crawl to the top of the container, attach their “tails end” to the lid with silk, hang in a J shape, and spin their chrysalides. This part was slow and fun to watch…the kids could really see the “how”!

Then they sort of hang around for awhile. You carefully remove the lid from the caterpillar cup, gently clean off any excess silk strings with a q-tip, and put the lid with chrysalides on a little stand in the mesh butterfly garden. I’ll admit, this was the boring time and my kids lost a little interest waiting. BUT when they started emerging as butterflies, oh my goodness, we could talk of nothing else and stalked that butterfly garden! The emergence happens FAST…we missed several…but we realized that they darken and then you can start to faintly see the wing colors through the thinning chrysalides. They will emerge head first, that is from the bottom as they are hanging and yeah, they just sort of crawl right out quickly! It is quite a sight! They crawl right up, and slowly you can see their crumpled wings start to get bigger and straighten out. It took all of ours a day or so to really be active at all.

Right as I realized they were hatching, I put in their “food”. I tried some cut up fruit but none of the butterflies showed any interest. I then made the nectar (they give you the recipe) and put it in the small lid of an old (cleaned!) spice jar along with a flower…worked great, they were instantly attracted and actively drank/ate.

We watched ours for just another day and then let our butterflies go. Took awhile for ours to figure it out, even after we took them outside and unzipped the lid. So there was a bit of waiting as they slowly climbed the side and then, frustratingly, flew back to the bottom! Ha! But when they did fly away – my kids squealed with joy and ran around the yard following them! It made any effort on my part totally worth it! In fact, we loved it so much that we quickly ordered a second cup of caterpillars and did it all again! You can easily reuse the mesh habitat, so the only cost was the refill + shipping.

Things I wish I had known: despite being the same size and age, our caterpillars did not all progress at the same speed, so getting all five from caterpillar to chrysalides was a 2-3 day process…that is, there were 2-3 days between the first chrysalis and the last. At first I was worried that the first would hatch into a butterfly before the last was in chrysalis form, but it’s a long process (7-10 days) so there was no need to worry. Also, in our first batch, the last straggler knocked two of the chrysalides off of the lid while he was crawling around trying to get attached! We laughed, it was like he didn’t know what to do! No worries, we were told to gently scoop them up (I used a plastic spoon) and place them on the floor of the butterfly garden – both hatched and although one had a slightly bent wing, both flew away just fine. Also, in our second cup, one caterpillar just never grew very much…but again, he ended up just fine, if our smallest butterfly. All ten of our caterpillars made it into butterfly form (I believe they guarantee 3 out of 5), so I think that’s pretty good! I also wish I had realized just how quickly they “hatch”…I mean, it happens in seconds! So you do need to be right there waiting. However, once we figured out that we could tell when they were getting close, that made it easier. My five year old totally got it and could spot when they were about to hatch and really enjoyed watching. My three-and-a-half year old and 20-month old didn’t really seem to care about the hatching, but loved once they stretched out into butterflies and moved around the habitat. And everyone LOVED releasing them.

Overall, I would highly recommend this for almost any age! I think it could be a great learning tool even for older kiddos and, frankly, I enjoyed it myself!




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