If you are looking for something to do with the kids this summer then you have to try this!
A few weeks ago our friends came over with a basket full of butterflies that they had ordered from Insect Lore and reared from caterpillars. As we had a few butterfly-friendly flowers in our garden, they wanted to release them here. Now, I absolutely adore butterflies, they are like a sign of peace for me so I found this really exciting.
If you are looking for something to do with the kids this summer then you have to try this! #insectlore #paintedladybutterflyTweet
When they released the butterflies I was amazed at how they didn’t fly off straight away. The children were able to hold them and take them over to the butterfly-friendly flowers. We were even able to get up close and watch them feed before they flew off. One of them ended up having a sleepover; the children named him Bob. Florence took such good care of Bob, he was unable to fly for a while and kept falling off the flowers. She was so careful and gentle picking Bob up and putting him back on the flowers, it was so lovely to watch her taking care of this little butterfly. It was a sad day when Bob flew away.
Of course, we decided that we had to try this for ourselves, but before we got round to buying the kit my in-laws turned up with it as a gift for the children. A big thank you to them for getting it for us!
What Do You Get?
The kit comes with a habitat, some instructions and a voucher to order your caterpillars. The voucher means that you don’t have to pay for the caterpillars; however, you do have to pay postage costs which was around £2.99. Its not just butterfly kits that you can get either; you can actually order quite a few things from their website including bug houses and butterfly feeders. What excited me the most was that you can in fact get other insect rearing kits such as ladybirds and stick insects. We will definitely be trying them in the future!
The caterpillars arrive in a pot which contains all the food that they need. Then you just leave them to it. They were absolutely tiny!
Check out the slides below to see how they changed.
We were fascinated by it. Every day we came downstairs the caterpillars were getting bigger and bigger. It was so interesting to watch. The girls were constantly checking on them. After about a week our caterpillars made their way up to the lid one by one and turned into chrysalides. You could literally see them changing throughout the day.
By the end of day 9, 4 out of the 5 had gone into their cocoons. The one remaining caterpillar kept going around the lid and was playing with all of the cocoons. It was so funny to see, its tiny little legs were spinning all the cocoons around. That was Amelia’s favourite part of the whole process, she was creased watching it. Eventually, it stopped playing and went into its own cocoon. It was all so weird and magical to see.
After a couple of days, we had to carefully take the lid off the pot and remove the silk webbing that was around the chrysalides. This was a lot harder than it looked. I think I was expecting it to be like a spider’s web but the silk was actually quite tough. I was terrified that they were going to come off the lid or I was going to damage them. There are instructions available over on Insect Lore’s YouTube channel which show you how to do it. They were extremely helpful.
The butterflies didn’t like it though, they went nuts and started shaking. Frightened the life out of me because I wasn’t expecting it. It’s quite normal though, apparently it’s their defence mechanism.
Once I had managed to remove all of the silk I placed the lid on the little cardboard stand that comes with the kit and popped it in to the butterfly habitat.
Me and Craig were going away for a couple of days so the children and the butterflies went to stay with my mother. When we returned from our trip 2 of the butterflies had emerged and we’d all missed it!
Over the next 2 days, all of the other butterflies emerged, and we managed to miss every single one of them! It happens so quickly; one of them hatched by the time my kettle had finished boiling. Next time I’ll have to set a camera up to try and capture them coming out.
After they emerge, you need to feed them. The kit comes with a sachet of nectar and we put some of the nectar onto a tissue at the bottom of the habitat. We also put some fruit and some butterfly-friendly flowers in there. They seemed pretty happy with that and it was fascinating seeing their big long tongues sipping up all of the nectar.
We were so excited about the release. The whole process from teeny little caterpillars to releasing beautiful painted lady butterflies took 19 days and it was now time to say goodbye to our babies. Unfortunately, our release had been delayed by a day or 2 down to bad weather conditions and when we opened the habitat, the butterflies flew straight out! It was beautiful to see but the kids were a little upset that they didn’t get to hold the butterflies this time. I guess that they had been with us a little too long and were desperate to flee the nest. But at least we got to hold them last time and of course, it just means that we are going to have to get more caterpillars.
This is such a great thing to do with the kids and I highly recommend it. It was completely mesmerising and beautiful to watch. The perfect summer activity.
The only thing that I wish was that there were a variety of butterflies to choose from as you can only get the Painted Lady variety. I’m definitely going to be doing it again though.
You can order the kits direct from their website with the live caterpillars for £20.99 or places such as Amazon for £17.99 (prices correct at time of writing 07/2021) but you have to order the caterpillars separately with the voucher inside the kit. Ordering the caterpillars separately is better if you are ordering the kit as a gift.
The caterpillars are available between March and September but you can pre-order them at any time of the year.
The habitat is reusable too so you can do this as many times as you like.
Have you tried this kit? What did you think?