Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Live Butterfly Garden

Have you seen the Live Butterfly Garden Hatching Kit advertised on TV? My kids have and my oldest daughter was super excited when she received one for her birthday last fall.

The box contains the mesh 'garden' as seen on the box and a coupon to receive 5 caterpillars and food via mail. She waited anxiously all winter to be able to order the caterpillars for the garden. Every other week, she would rightfully whine, 'is it spring yet?"

Finally, it was time to order the caterpillars. The kit comes with a 'live creature coupon' that you redeem on Insect Lore's website for 5 caterpillars and food. After reading online, I needed to time the delivery around our vacation so we would be home for their delivery and care. It takes about 2 weeks from the time that the caterpillars are delivered to your home to when they are ready to be set free.

The cup needs to sit undisturbed (which can be tricky with kids) and away from direct sun-light. I placed the cup on our breakfast bar ledge and gave the kids strict orders to 'look, but don't touch'. The caterpillars were quite active, crawling all over their cup. That brown layer on the bottom of the cup is their food...and also quickly became their bathroom too.

Slowly, the caterpillars work their way to the top of the cup to hang.

And before your very eyes they form into chrysalids.

Once all of the caterpillars have formed into chrysalids, it is time to move them to their mesh home. I was a little concerned that I would hurt the chrysalids, especially after removing the lid and seeing that the caterpillars had eaten much of the paper that needed to be moved to the mesh.

That paper disk at the top of the cup is where the caterpillars attach themselves. It needs to be carefully removed and pinned to the mesh wall.

After several days as chrysalids, we woke up to butterflies emerging.

They fluttered around and around.

To feed the butterflies, we placed some bee balm flowers from my garden on the floor of the mesh garden and sprinkled sugar water on the petals for the butterflies to drink.

When all five of the butteflies had emerged we took them outside to set them free in our garden. I would have kept them for a few more days, but we were going out of town and I didn't want to come home to dead butterflies.

The Butterfly Garden was a lot of fun for my whole family. The kids enjoyed waking up every morning to see what had changed over-night. The Live Butterfly Garden Hatching Kit is around $14 on Amazon and is eligible for the Super Saver Shipping. You can also buy it on the Insect Lore website for $19.99. The caterpillars are free with the coupon code that comes in the box, but there is $5 shipping fee. But for $20 - $25 you have a fun spring/summer gift or activity for the kids.

Have you ever raised butterflies? Did your family enjoy the process? Let us know in the comment.

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