0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
GREAT Butterfly Kit!, May 9, 2023
I have been rasing butterflies for 5 years and I LOVE this kit! It's so cool to see them chow down on their nutrient and then change into a chrysalis. I have a suggestion:DO NOT move your caterpillars around a lot, they are delicate and when moved too much, it kills them. Keep them in a quiet, warm place and watch and learn! I have chrysalids right now and they are almost ready to hatch! Tip: mist your chrysalids every other day. This increses the chance that they'll emerge healthy!
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful:
Wonderful--Raise generations of butterflies!, Feb 27, 2023
My son (age 5) got this from his grandparents for Christmas and it has been terrific fun for all of us. The first set of ten caterpillars grew visibly day-by-day, then pupated and emerged as butterflies in a few weeks. There is a lot of great information about painted lady and other butterfly species online and having this project got my son very interested in how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly so soon I found myself showing him multi-colored pictures of imaginal discs (the larval structures that produce the butterfly wing, leg etc. during metamorphosis) online at websites I found--a great way to get him interested in developmental biology. The first time we talked about this he decided they were actually "magical discs", given what these groups of cells can do...the whole process has been very entertaining for the whole family.... It is also really fun to have butterflies flitting around and caterpillars growing in the pavilion in the kitchen when it is gray and wintery outside.
How to raise more than one generation of critters inside:
Since we sent our coupon for larvae out immediately after Christmas, we had butterflies dancing around the pavilion and mating in February when there were no plants outside to collect for the next generation of caterpillars to eat. Anticipating this, I ordered a mallow plant and some additional larval food from Carolina Biological Supply Company at about the time when our caterpillars turned into chrysalises: there is an online store and the stuff to get is the L918 culture medium (144040). This will feed about 80 larvae. (Unfortunately the Insect Lore company, which makes the Pavilion, only sells caterpillar food in small quantities along with additional larvae, which we certainly didn't need).
How to do it: We set the mallow plant in the pavilion and the butterflies laid their eggs on the leaves where we could watch them darken and emerge as very tiny 1mm long new caterpillars. After 4-5 days of watching the caterpillars eat the mallow plant (making little tracks on the leaves) we prepared them new homes in caterpillar media. To do this, you can use either the original plastic containers that the first generation larvae are shipped in (clean them out and dish wash them) or use another small clear-sided plastic or glass jar with a lid. Clean the containers well (I wiped the inside with a paper towel with isopropyl alcohol on it after dishwashing to kill bacteria, which will contaminate the food and make the larvae sick). The food will come in two plastic containers (nearly full). One of these can be frozen for subsequent generations. Transfer the contents of one container to a covered microwaveable container and heat on medium in the microwave (swirling every 10-30 seconds to mix and avoid overheating) until it is a solution. Pour media into the bottoms of the larvae containers to a depth of about a quarter inch (this will make 4-5 new containers). If there is a lot of condensation on the sides after the media has hardened, you can wipe this away with a paper towel--I did this, but then again alcohol-wiped the inside solid surfaces and lid above the media. Cover the containers loosely (leave the lid slightly ajar) and put them somewhere to dry. I laid a clean paper towel over the collection of covered jars to keep dust/dirt from drifting in given the activity level of the children here. After a couple days of drying, these were ready for larvae. If necessary (ie., if not using the previously shipped containers) make very, very small air holes in the lid. Then use a toothpick or matchstick to collect each 2-4 mm long larva off of the mallow plant leaves and tap to drop them into the new container. Put a clean paper towel over the top of the container (under the lid) and re-cap the jar--now the paper will serve as a scaffold for new chrysalises to hang from and will allow air in while preventing the tiny caterpillars from escaping. Try to be relatively aseptic about this.
It appears that we're going to get about 20-30 new caterpillars from the first generation, which I should be able to accommodate with the larvae cups made above...hopefully by the time we've run out of this food and been through a couple more generations it will be summer and warm enough to release all of the butterflies we have outside. The pavilion is well made and sturdy enough that it should accommodate many other projects involving insects. All in all, we've been entirely pleased with this--a great gift that's had my son on the phone describing his butterflies' recent development to grandma and grandpa several times!
One more tip: the adult butterflies seem to become upended on the floor of the pavillion at times while they are flapping around and have trouble gaining traction to right themselves on the slick nylon surface. This shortened the lives of several of ours until I saw it happening and put some packing material (like easter straw) in there for them to stand on.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Wonderful for child and parent, Jan 31, 2023
My two daughters, ages 5 and 8, each received one of these as a Christmas present. We sent away for the caterpillars and they arrived in one week. I have to admit that even I, as an adult, really enjoyed watching the progress of the caterpillars as they transformed into beautiful butterflies. My only compaint is that we weren't prepared when two of the butterflies became entangled in the webbing surrounding the cocoon. There was nothing in the instructions about what to do so we had to watch the butterflies suffer until they finally died from exhaustion. We told the kids that it was simply part of nature. Other than that, what a great experience!
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A surprise when combined with the Butterfly Feeder, Oct 3, 2023
My 5-year old got this for his May birthday. He had gone through the whole thing in preschool and love it very much. He and my 10-year old both enjoyed naming the caterpillars and watching them every day. They grew by the hour during the first few days. We actually got to see them hatch. Another fun thing was watching them learn to fly. They climbed up to the top of the pavillon and then dropped to the bottom. Eventually they all learned. We released them near hibiscus and butterfly bushes. Got nice pics, one of them appearing on the supplier's web site. We had placed the Butterfly feeder at the bottom instead of flowers. After we released them, we saw tiny, green spots on the feeder. Yep, butterfly eggs! After about a week, they hatched. Unfortunately, due to my ignorance, they teeny, tiny caterpillars died. I found out you can buy just the food from the manufacturer. We'll probably buy more caterpillars next year (and an extra supply of food for the hatchlings).
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
THE best summer project!!!, Jun 30, 2023
The kids have never been so excited about what will happen next. We couldn't wait for the caterpillars to come in the mail...counting the days. They all (10) did what they were supposed to do: eating, growing, spinning web, hanging. One did not turn into a chrysalis, and one chrysalis did not hatch, but we had 8 butterflies. They are easy to care for. They even lay eggs and the eggs hatch into tiny caterpillers. We haven't past the 2nd set caterpillar stage yet, but are hoping...