One of my favourite books as a child was The Very Hungry Caterpillar and I have passed my love of these book on to my children.
They love nothing more than getting out our story sack and re-enacting the story with the small and large caterpillars, food and of course a cocoon and finally the butterfly.
When we were invited to review Interplay’s Butterfly World, I knew that the kids would love watching the real transformation of caterpillars to butterflies.
Butterfly World is a hands-on nature study kit that contains all the equipment required to observe and study the fascinating life cycle of butterflies.
The main difference between this kit and it’s rivals is that it includes a colour illustrated activity guide which helps you to find caterpillar’s in the wild as well as including interesting facts about butterflies. The kit does not include caterpillar’s, although it does give details of a website should you wish to buy them, which is what we did.
The 5 caterpillars arrive around 7 days after ordering them and come in a see-through pot, complete with food and a paper top where they will eventually attach themselves to as they transform themselves into a chrysalis and subsequently beautiful Painted Lady butterflies. When they arrived they were so tiny you could barely see them, but they are hungry creatures and grow at an impressive rate of knots!
The caterpillar’s took between 10 and 14 days to get to the chrysalis stage and when then are ready to change they climb to the top of the jar and hang themselves from the paper which is under the lid. I did fear for one whose clumsy sibling knocked off, but I just lay it on a piece of kitchen towel at the bottom of the net when I transferred them over.
The pupation takes a further ten days and initially the chrysalis is a golden colour but as they are ready to emerge they go a very dark, almost black colour and you know they will emerge that day.
The butterflies are crafty things, I had the video camera poised and ready to record them emerging but you can guarantee that as soon as you turn your back for a second, they are out. The butterfly then rests in a vertical position while pumping its wings to full size. The butterflies do this by forcing blood under pressure into the veins of the wings. As the wings expand, the butterfly begins to join the two halves of the proboscis together. It is very important not to disturb the butterfly as it is important that she accomplishes this whist the two halves are still soft and pliable.
One or two hours after the butterfly has emerged the wings will be full-sized and hardened. Now the butterfly is ready to fly!! Don’t be alarmed by any red staining – it is meconium and is left over from the formation of the wings.
We did keep ours for a couple of days before we let them go as the weather was so bad, feeding them sugared water sprayed onto a flower. Once the weather perked up though it was time to let them go.
I was really surprised they stayed in our garden for a good 2-3 hours before fluttering away into the distance.
Butterfly Garden is a fab learning project for the kids and requires very little care. I would recommend this for any child with an interest in the natural world!