Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Insect Lore!

When I was a little girl, we'd constantly play in the vacant field next door and return home with monarch caterpillars and milkweed. We'd put them in jars and watch the whole process from caterpillar to pupa to gorgeous butterfly. Absolute magic.

Unable to duplicate that naturally for my children, I sought help from a company I've heard great things about for a long time--Insect Lore. They sent some Painted Lady caterpillars our way last month, and I could not be more excited to show you the wonder that followed.

One afternoon a delivery man rang our doorbell and the children (including cousin Mary) were so excited, they plopped right down on the porch to open our caterpillar package.

Insect Lore sends absolutely everything you need--the caterpillars (in a culture with all the food they'll need), a butterfly garden (for when it's time for them to hatch), and very clear, thorough instructions.

For a week we kept our eyes on the culture cup and watched the caterpillars change from tiny to plump (Eric Carle wasn't kidding!).

Then one day the caterpillars started toward the lid of the cup. By the next day, their pupas were formed and we followed the instructions for putting them into the butterfly garden.

Along the way, we did some simple corresponding art projects. The boys loved making egg carton and pipe cleaner caterpillars.

But Blaine was so disgusted with his imperfect tissue paper butterfly that he directly marched it to the garbage can. C'est la vie!

Insect Lore suggests you plan your butterfly hatching experience around any sort of vacations or things that would disrupt the process, but we had some necessary travel come up, so into the car went our pupas! They drove all the way to Grandma's house in Utah with us and began hatching within the first couple days of our stay there. It was so exciting to wake the boys up in the morning with the news, "The first butterfly is out!"

We followed the instructions to put something sugary in the garden (like flowers sprinkled with sugar water or watermelon) for our butterflies to eat. Watching them pop out one by one and learn to spread their wings was utterly inspiring. I loved how many questions the boys asked and how even the adults in the house were mesmerized.

After a couple of days of admiring our Painted Ladies in their garden, we knew it was time to release them to the wild.

Lucky for us, Grandma's neighbors have a butterfly bush, a perfectly fitting home, we thought.

It was hard to say goodbye, but we did it!

Sincerely, I cannot think of an educational experience I've loved more with my children. We had weeks of magic with this activity! At Bloom we try to focus on making our lives and our children's lives more meaningful. This is just the sort of thing that fulfills that goal so well that I want to shout it from the rooftops!


P.S There are a lot of great products available at Insect Lore. Find exactly what we used here.


Ty and Zara Franklin said...

I have often wondered if those butterfly gardens really work. Thanks for sharing! I think we will have to give it a try. :)

jeanine said...

I've been wanting to do the butterfly garden... looks like so much fun. We got the worm one from Insect Lore and my boys LOVED it.

toddnjoelle said...

We did this last month too. We loved watching the transformation of the butterflies. I think I was just as excited as my kids were. Letting them go was great too. To see them start flying off like they had done it a million times. We got library books about butterflies too and learned how amazing and helpful butterflies are to us.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the idea. I just ordered a kit (and hope it isn't too cold for the butterflies when they arrive???!)

Barbara said...

I remember doing this in the 4th grade (during the 14th century). It was absolutely enchanting. It's great that you are able to do this for your children. It's something they'll never forget.

laurap said...

oh and they don't tire of it. We have done it the last 3 summers, you can just order more caterpillars! Really magical...