Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We grew butterflies!

Today I'm sharing one of the most exciting things my kids and I have done all summer... we grew our own butterflies!

We saw an infomercial for this butterfly garden kit on TV a few months ago. While I was a little skeptical if it would work, my kids kept begging to give it a try, so I bought the kit for them as a "Welcome to Summer" gift, to celebrate the end of the school year. I purchased our kit at the local teacher supply store, United Art and Education. The company that makes it is called Insect Lore, and I know you can order these straight from their website.

The way it works is you purchase the butterfly habitat (it was $20), and then when you are ready (give yourself a 3 week period of time), you order your caterpillars, which will arrive in the mail (you pay $5 for shipping). As you can see, my kids were beside themselves with excitement upon opening our mail-order caterpillars!

This project is really quite easy. It takes very little to maintain and grow your caterpillars into butterflies. You don't need to feed the caterpillars, or worry about them, until its time to transfer their cocoons to the garden.

The caterpillars were a thrill to watch. My kids would sing and talk to them every day. They were more active in that little jar than I thought they would be. The brown stuff on the bottom is their food.

They got to work pretty quickly spinning their silk and wrapping themselves into a chrysalis. I accidentally erased my pictures of the cocoon period, which is too bad, because it was so cool! They all started spinning around the same time, and were each complete hanging cocoon within a few days of each other. Once all the cocoons have been spun, you are supposed to remove the lid of the small jar, and peel off the tissue paper which the cocoons will be attached to. You then tape it to the top of your butterfly garden like so....

I actually left our coccoons in the jar a day too long. One day when we had come home, 2 of the butterflies had already emerged from their cocoons! It wasn't hard to transfer them to their home.

And here they are! Five beautiful monarch, whoops, actually they are painted lady butterflies! It truly was miraculous to watch them come out of their cocoons. There were so many lessons and discussion about the creation of life that took place in our home.

My kids named them Mona, Lisa, Gracie, Lacey, and Butter. They became part of our family, our kids wanted to keep them forever!

The kids would stick their hands in the cage and gently play with them. And... yes, one or two escaped a few times, but it was great fun catching them and putting them back in their home!

The directions say to feel the butterflies carnations, fruit, or a sugar water mixture. We had some gorgeous lilies in our yard, and my daughters picked them as food for the butterflies, much to my chagrin, haha. Our "pets" seemed to really enjoy them!

One of the things I love about this project is that when you're ready to do it again, all you have to do is order your caterpillars. You don't need to purchase the whole kit again. Also, this cage has been an excellent trap for our fireflies every night! I love the multiple uses!

When the butterflies wings are touching, they look pretty brown and dull. But when they open their wings to reveal their magical orange colors, it is just breathtaking!

We let our butterflies live on our kitchen counter for about a week and a half.

As you can imagine, the kids grew pretty attached to our pets. So the day it was time to let them go was slightly traumatic, especially for our 4 year old whose little world revolves around bugs. Our 6 year old, who was equally fascinated by the process, understood that we needed to let them free in order to survive and eat and pollinate other plants.

We let them go on a Sunday afternoon. The 4 year old, who has a collection of cages, transferred a butterfly into her purple cage. She wasn't quite ready to say goodbye.

However, it escaped on its own. It was pure joy for our little girl when the butterfly landed on her shoulder for a moment in time. Sadly, the unfortunate little butterfly left her shoulder and plummeted to its short life's end by landing in a spider web that was too high for me to reach and set free. There were tears, some even from me. It was really sad! But another life's lesson was learned, and we read a book about spiders later that night. Spiders have to eat too!

Perhaps my favorite part of the whole process was the "Field Journals" that I helped the kids record in. They wrote down their observations every day, drawing pictures of the changing caterpillars.

This is my kindergartener's record of days 1-4.

And here is her record of days 5-11.
(We stopped recording once the butterflies had emerged from the cocoons).

Here's a caterpillar according to our 4 year old. (This melts my heart)!!

So that wraps up our adventure with butterflies!
PS- It may appear that this is a sponsored or campaign type of post, but I assure you it is not. I am not writing this on behalf of any companies. I purchased all the materials myself. I'm only writing from my own experience, with my own opinions, because I loved this product and experience!


Have you heard of the contest I am hosting during August? If you want to see more details (like the $500 in prizes, who the judges are, and how to enter)....

Cre8 + 2 = Me and You is a fun contest designed to inspire you to spend time creating with a loved one (i.e. a child, parent, sibling, friend, neighbor). The point is to encourage you to spend time creating, teaching, learning, playing, and making memories while sharing your creativity! Your projects can be anything- sewing, crafting, painting, building, decorating, organizing, cooking, gardening, etc. They can be simple or complex. They can be made anytime- this summer, 5 years ago, 10 years ago- be sure to tell the story behind your project! Read more here.

I purchased our Butterfly Garden at United Art and Education. They are one of the sponsors for this contest, giving a $50 gift card to 1st place. I seriously LOVE that store, my kids always want me to take them there! We have been known to spend hours there, playing and looking around. It is a specialty teacher/education supply store, and has so many learning activities for children.


  1. We have done the insect lure butterflies before too. They are so much fun. The kids so enjoyed it. Our habitat was very similar to yours. One of our butterflies wings did not unwrinkle all the way and it wasn't able to fly. He stayed with us and we fed him sugar water and flowers. We used it as an opening to discuss people with disabilities or special needs. Definitely a great learning experience.

  2. Dear Rach, great post! Congratulations for your blog.I´m a mom of 2 in Brazil. Once, when my oldest kid was 3 years old, we had a caterpillar in our garden, it was magic to explain for young kid all the process until it become a butterfly. Now he is 5 years old and the moments we shared with the little creature keep in his mind since then and for sure he will help me to explain for his brother when we have a new oporttunity in our garden. I hope so!

    PS. Sorry my english it´s not my foreign language...;)

    Gabi from Brazil.

  3. I love that you did this with your kids this summer. I teach second grade and we do this in our classroom too. It's a miracle to watch it happen every time. I just wanted to clarify that the butterflies you hatched are not monarch butterflies; they are painted lady butterflies.

  4. we did this this summer too! it was a gift from grandma, and the kids loved it! we kept ours for a solid two weeks, happy and fluttery. we let them go when it became apparent that if we didn't we'd be having butterflies soon. hehehe

  5. Such a fun activity for the kids to do.

  6. What a fun family summer project. Our local children's zoo has a butterfly "house." My grandkids love it.

  7. This post brought back great memories of our family doing the same thing when our kiddos were little. We also did the ladybugs and ants. I'm not sure if they still do those, but they were all very fun and the kids loved it every time. Thanks for sharing!

  8. This brought back great memories of when I did this with my kids a few years ago. it really is a fun project!

  9. I found your link on A to Z Home Stories. I have a 3 year old and wondered how this process went. Next summer it will be the perfect project!! Thanks for sharing it. Renea.


Thanks for your comment. Have a great day!
♥Rach H