Insect Lore offers a Butterfly Garden, Butterfly Pavilion, Ladybug Land, and Praying Mantis kits that all offer an opportunity for children to watch insects grow through their different stages. Kits come with a habitat plus caterpillars, larvae, or egg cases depending upon the type of kit. You can buy a kit with either live insects or a voucher. Butterfly and ladybug kits can be purchased with a voucher rather than any live material so that you can choose exactly when to get your caterpillars or larvae. Be aware that you will have to pay a shipping charge when you redeem the voucher, and also that the Praying Mantis kit is available only from January to May of each year. You can purchase kits with vouchers from various distributors such as those linked in our price comparison, but kits with live material must be purchased directly from Insect Lore.
Kits are ingeniously designed so that children can easily watch the developmental process while keeping the insects safely contained. Butterfly and praying mantis habitats are both the same collapsible net container as pictured for the butterfly kit. The ladybug habitat is colorfully “landscaped” with a clear plastic dome. Kits come with everything you need to feed and care for your critters except water and food for newly "hatched" insects. Insect Lore has made it as simple as possible to do this by following their brief, illustrated instructions. Some of the kits even include custom-designed items like feeding droppers and butterfly feeders that are colorful, sturdy, and easy-to-use.
Gift set versions of both the butterfly and ladybug kits (available only with live material) cost just two dollars more, but they include stickers and plastic models (each model about an inch long) of the different stages of that insect. The models are very useful teaching tools. The butterfly gift set also adds a packet of flower seeds so that you can grow your own butterfly garden. Of course, the timing on the growth of the flowers and the release of the butterflies might be tricky to coordinate, but it would be a fun way to follow through with the project. Refill kits are available so you can reuse your habitat if you wish to do so.
Insect Lore also sells Ant Mountain, a habitat for observing live ants that is escape proof. You’ll get a voucher to redeem for the live ants that will live in your habitat.
I received the Ladybug Land gift set for review, so I got to try this out myself. It was super easy to set up and very interesting to watch the developmental cycle. My grandchildren got in on the project as well, and I got to share their curiosity and enthusiasm as they learned about each stage of development.
Observing insects in their natural habitats is ideal, but you can’t easily control the timing of their development or keep them within a predictable area in the outdoors. Insect Lore kits solve those problems and make following the life cycles of insects a fun family experience.