Insect Lore Butterfly GardenIf like us, you want your kids to grow up with an appreciation of our fragile natural eco system, getting them an Insect Lore Butterfly Garden is a great place to start. Almost daily we are bombarded by dreadful news of the impact we humans are having on nature. We found this to be a great way of educating our eco-warrior kids, making a small but significant difference to the environment and having some real life fun.

This has become an annual event for us now. When the kit arrived from Amazon the kids quickly unpacked it to find a pop-up cylindrical structure approximately twelve inches high and the same in diameter. This is where our caterpillars completed their metamorphosis into butterflies. From the garden we grabbed a few twigs, a bit of greenery and a couple of flowers to make the habitat a little more natural. Then came the pause in proceedings. For reasons that seem obvious when you think about it, the caterpillars are not actually shipped with the kit. Having three thousand boxes stacked in a warehouse containing fifteen thousand caterpillars is not ideal. Hence, your little ones are shipped to you on next day delivery by request.

Arrival of the Caterpillars

Shortly after posting the coupon off, a small package arrived promptly in the post… our caterpillars had arrived. The five of them were in a small plastic pot with “food” solidified in the bottom. I’m not sure what the caterpillars were eating at this stage but they seemed to love it and grow at a fantastic rate…. A bit like my kids.

Sustaining the environment

They are bred specifically for the purpose so every time we do this, we are adding to the butterfly population which can’t be a bad thing. Besides being an aesthetic delight, butterflies are vital for the role they play in pollination and in the food chain. Loss of habitat and global warming are beginning to have a negative effect on butterfly population and Painted Lady butterfly are important as pollinators as they are migratory. When they migrate, they move pollen grains of both spring blooming plants and autumn blooming plants giving us genetic diversity in the plant species over a wide distance.

Here come the butterflies

After around a week, the caterpillars formed into their chrysalises which hung from the edge of the habitat and twigs. After another week with no visible external activity, the butterflies emerged. If you are lucky like us, you can actually catch them breaking out of the chrysalises. It take a while for them to fight their way out so you don’t have to watch them every minute of the day. All five of our caterpillars successfully managed the transition and we successfully “reared” five wonderful Painted Lady butterflies.

For the next couple of days we kept our butterflies in the habitat, feeding them on sugared water. This was placed onto flower petals using the supplied dropper. Josh and Emma loved watching the butterflies feeding. Over the next forty eight hours they began to fly more and more in the habitat, getting stronger, so it was time to release them.

Set your butterflies free!

The day was hot and sunny with little wind. We set the habitat down in the back garden and removed the lid. At first, the butterflies seemed content to stay but slowly, one by one, they floated out across the garden and out into the big blue yonder. One did hang around on a large shrub long enough for us to get some great photos before heading further afield.