Last month we were sent the Butterfly World kit by Interplay, which I was very excited about trying out. I have watched other friends enjoying similar activities with their kids, and I had a feeling this would be something my two would absolutely love. The chance to watch the entire butterfly lifecycle up close, from tiny caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, was very, very appealing.
The kit itself contains everything you need to hatch your butterflies, but not the caterpillars themselves. It has a net, very informative instruction booklet, small pot and paintbrush. We didn’t use the last two items, and I wasn’t quite sure what they were for. I wonder if they are needed if you catch your own caterpillars to start off with. There are instructions on how to do this in the booklet, or you can take the easier option and mail order your caterpillars. The set includes a discount code to use at a company called Gribbly Bugs who will send you a pot of caterpillars through the post.
Our pot arrived, via Royal Mail, containing 5 Painted Lady caterpillars, and all the food they needed to grow and develop into chrysalises.
It’s a completely self-contained ecosystem – all we had to do was leave the pot in a suitable location, out of direct sunlight, and watch as the caterpillars grew
until they migrated up to the lid of the pot
and formed their chrysalises
At this point we had to leave them a couple of days to “harden”, and then could remove the paper lining from the lid of the pot and stick it to the lid of the Butterfly World kit, using sticky pads that came in the package with the caterpillars. Our tip here is to make sure you press the pads firmly to get a good “stick” – I got up the first morning to discover ours hadn’t been well stuck, and the whole thing had fallen to the bottom of the net. Thankfully the chrysalises seemed intact, and we managed to re-attach them safely. It was a bit of a heart stopping moment though.
Our chrysalises hung around for a week or so in a mostly inactive state, although a couple of them had a few mad bouts of mad wiggling (usually if we accidentally knocked the cage). I wondered if that meant there was some kind of a problem with them, but apparently not, as, over the space of about a day, all five hatched into beautiful butterflies.
I couldn’t believe how quickly they hatched, I kept walking out of the room and coming back in a few minutes later to find another butterfly in the net!
We kept them in the net for 3 or 4 days, feeding them with sliced strawberries and cotton-wool pads soaked in sugar water. The instruction book told us that butterflies don’t eat, they only drink, and gave the recipe for the correct mix of sugar and water to feed them. I was worried that they might try to fly out of the net when I opened it to feed them, but there didn’t seem to be any danger of that.
Eventually the time came to release them into the wild. Because the Painted Lady is a native, migratory species of butterfly it is perfectly safe to release them in your garden. We took the net outside on a lovely sunny afternoon, and it was quite special to be able to watch our butterflies spread their wings and fly. Here’s what happened:
We absolutely loved watching our caterpillars grow and develop into butterflies. The kids were fascinated by the process, and adored being able to see the animals up so close. I didn’t realise how quickly caterpillars grow – each time we looked at them they were visibly bigger. The whole process took maybe 2 weeks, which is quick enough to keep the kids attention. We have already decided that next Spring we will order some more caterpillars from Gribbly Bugs and do the whole thing all over again. The Butterfly World net is solidly built, and I’ve managed to clean it up (the butterflies drop meconium on the base of the net when they emerge) so it will be fine to use again. I expect it to last for a good number of uses.
The Butterfly World kit has a retail price of £12.99, and is available from the Interplay website as well as other retailers. It’s also currently available on Amazon (affiliate link) for the slightly discounted price of £12.19. A pot containing five painted lady caterpillars and all the food they need is available from Gribbly Bugs for £12.00 including postage, which can be reduced to £9.50 by using the discount code contained within the Butterfly World instruction book. The caterpillars are available between March and September. For less than £25 you can enjoy a fun and educational experience with your kids, and we definitely recommend this kit.
Disclosure: We were sent the Butterfly World kit and a pot of caterpillars for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own. The Amazon link contained within this post contains my affiliate details – if you make a purchase after clicking I will receive a small commission payment at no additional cost to you.