Insect Lore Live Butterfly Pavilion
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562 of 565 people found the following review helpful
My son (age 5) got this from his grandparents for Christmas and it has been terrific fun for all of us. The first set of ten caterpillars grew visibly day-by-day, then pupated and emerged as butterflies in a few weeks. There is a lot of great information about painted lady and other butterfly species online and having this project got my son very interested in how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly so soon I found myself showing him multi-colored pictures of imaginal discs (the larval structures that produce the butterfly wing, leg etc. during metamorphosis) online at websites I found--a great way to get him interested in developmental biology. The first time we talked about this he decided they were actually "magical discs", given what these groups of cells can do...the whole process has been very entertaining for the whole family.... It is also really fun to have butterflies flitting around and caterpillars growing in the pavilion in the kitchen when it is gray and wintery outside.

How to raise more than one generation of critters inside:

Since we sent our coupon for larvae out immediately after Christmas, we had butterflies dancing around the pavilion and mating in February when there were no plants outside to collect for the next generation of caterpillars to eat. Anticipating this, I ordered a mallow plant and some additional larval food from Carolina Biological Supply Company at about the time when our caterpillars turned into chrysalises: there is an online store and the stuff to get is the L918 culture medium (144040). This will feed about 80 larvae. (Unfortunately the Insect Lore company, which makes the Pavilion, only sells caterpillar food in small quantities along with additional larvae, which we certainly didn't need).

How to do it: We set the mallow plant in the pavilion and the butterflies laid their eggs on the leaves where we could watch them darken and emerge as very tiny 1mm long new caterpillars. After 4-5 days of watching the caterpillars eat the mallow plant (making little tracks on the leaves) we prepared them new homes in caterpillar media. To do this, you can use either the original plastic containers that the first generation larvae are shipped in (clean them out and dish wash them) or use another small clear-sided plastic or glass jar with a lid. Clean the containers well (I wiped the inside with a paper towel with isopropyl alcohol on it after dishwashing to kill bacteria, which will contaminate the food and make the larvae sick). The food will come in two plastic containers (nearly full). One of these can be frozen for subsequent generations. Transfer the contents of one container to a covered microwaveable container and heat on medium in the microwave (swirling every 10-30 seconds to mix and avoid overheating) until it is a solution. Pour media into the bottoms of the larvae containers to a depth of about a quarter inch (this will make 4-5 new containers). If there is a lot of condensation on the sides after the media has hardened, you can wipe this away with a paper towel--I did this, but then again alcohol-wiped the inside solid surfaces and lid above the media. Cover the containers loosely (leave the lid slightly ajar) and put them somewhere to dry. I laid a clean paper towel over the collection of covered jars to keep dust/dirt from drifting in given the activity level of the children here. After a couple days of drying, these were ready for larvae. If necessary (ie., if not using the previously shipped containers) make very, very small air holes in the lid. Then use a toothpick or matchstick to collect each 2-4 mm long larva off of the mallow plant leaves and tap to drop them into the new container. Put a clean paper towel over the top of the container (under the lid) and re-cap the jar--now the paper will serve as a scaffold for new chrysalises to hang from and will allow air in while preventing the tiny caterpillars from escaping. Try to be relatively aseptic about this.

It appears that we're going to get about 20-30 new caterpillars from the first generation, which I should be able to accommodate with the larvae cups made above...hopefully by the time we've run out of this food and been through a couple more generations it will be summer and warm enough to release all of the butterflies we have outside. The pavilion is well made and sturdy enough that it should accommodate many other projects involving insects. All in all, we've been entirely pleased with this--a great gift that's had my son on the phone describing his butterflies' recent development to grandma and grandpa several times!

One more tip: the adult butterflies seem to become upended on the floor of the pavillion at times while they are flapping around and have trouble gaining traction to right themselves on the slick nylon surface. This shortened the lives of several of ours until I saw it happening and put some packing material (like easter straw) in there for them to stand on.
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138 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2000
Raising butterflies with the Butterfly Pavilion was an experience that my kids and I will never forget. I'm a single parent trying to raise two young kids on my own. I'm busy and don't have much time to take them outside to experience nature. I wanted to give them something that would nurture their respect of nature. Boy did I pick the right item. We mailed our free certificate and about 10 days later, we received our caterpillars. Within about 7 days, they changed into chrysalides. We waited about a week, then suddenly, the butterflies started hatching. In fact, we got to see 4 of them come out within about 30 minutes of each other. It was the most fantastic experience. We kept the butterflies inside the netted habitat for about 5 days, then released them outside. My little 4-year-old girl cried as she had to free her "butterfries", but understood why it was important to do so. We'll never forget this experience and highly recommend the Butterfly Pavilion to everyone.
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2000
I bought the Butterfly Pavilion for my grandchildren so we could watch butterfly metamorphosis together. It was very easy. We mailed the free certificate and about a week later we got our caterpillars with their special food. We watched our critters every day grow and eat. After they formed their chrysalids (or cocoons) we put them into the Butterfly Pavilion and waited for them to hatch. About 8 days later, they started coming out one-by-one. My youngest grandson (5 yrs.) was the first to witness the birth. "Nana, Nana, come see our 'butterfrys'". It was the most amazing experience. We let them go later and all had a good cry. I'd recommend this fine product to anyone!
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2002
This is one of the best "toys" we've ever had. We had 10 for 10 caterpillars emerge as butterflies. Both my 4 yr. old and my 2 yr old delighted in the "hungry caterpillars" getting bigger by the day, then morphing into chrysalids, then getting transferred into the pavillion, then each one emerging as a butterfly. THEN they got to witness mating, seeing tiny butterfly eggs, and lo! one morning we had HUNDREDS of teeny-tiny hungry caterpillars! NOTE: you need to let the adult butterflies FREE before they lay eggs, otherwise you break the "circle of life" and have to deal with basically killing hundreds of caterpillars. Nevertheless, I've since bought this kit for other families to enjoy.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2000
Our whole family was engrossed in the daily development of our caterpillars as they grew (quickly! wow!) and became fluttering Painted Lady butterflies. The Pavilion hung up easily from my daughter's bedroom light (we have no flat surfaces that aren't covered with stuff in our house, but don't judge me a bad housekeeper for that). It was so easy, and better yet, the habitat is reusable. We can't wait to do the whole thing again! Simple, interesting, educational, live - in short, it's amazing. Where was this when I was a kid?
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2002
This item is extremely durable which can be used over and over for future butterfly raising. It isn't the usual cardboard and cellophane that some "bug kits" are comprised of. A fine mesh enclosure with secure opening allows children to observe the beautiful butterflies grow to maturity. My child is enthralled with the learning experience this toy provides!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2000
Our expectations were completely met by this wonderful piece of Nature. All we had to do was watch and marvel as the butterflies' metamorphosis happened right before our's and our kids' eyes. All of the tiny caterpillars grew, crawled to the top of their little containers, formed their chrysalises, and emerged about a week later as beautiful butterflies. It held our kids' wonder and interest for the entire 3 weeks of the metamorphosis. The result was 10 gorgeous butterflies. Would recommend it to anyone!!
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96 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2006
My [kid] got this and shared it with her (...) class. They followed the instructions to the letter. Finally out came a whole bunch of the ugliest moth-looking like creatures. All of the children were so disappointed. Here they had seen the cover of the box with these orange painted lady butterflies! I called the company and they so nicely explained that these are not the colorful American Painted Lady butterflies. They are a different species that are much more gray and moth looking. We even had a bug expert come in to my daughter's class and tell us the "butterflies" sure looked like moths to her too! My question is, "Why does the company show colorful orange butterflies on the package when that is not what they are sending?" Very disappointing and not worth the money.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2005
I have been rasing butterflies for 5 years and I LOVE this kit! It's so cool to see them chow down on their nutrient and then change into a chrysalis. I have a suggestion:DO NOT move your caterpillars around a lot, they are delicate and when moved too much, it kills them. Keep them in a quiet, warm place and watch and learn! I have chrysalids right now and they are almost ready to hatch! Tip: mist your chrysalids every other day. This increses the chance that they'll emerge healthy!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2003
Both of us being 'nature buffs', my 6 year old son and I had a wonderful time with this.
We sent away for our catarpillars (every day he would say, 'have they come in yet'?) and when they arrived, put them in the habitat.
When I was a little girl, I caught a bunch of catarpillars, put them in a shoebox, with grass, leaves and whatever else I thought they might eat. I punched holes in the shoe box lid and then covered the box, and basically forgot about it until a few days or so, opened it and saw my catarpillars had made cocoons. Before long, they were moths and I remember how excited I was to see them!
With this habitat, you get to WATCH the whole process of metamorphosis and it is truly amazing AND educational!! When they finally transformed into butterflies, my son was so thrilled, altho a little saddened when we had to set them free.
I'm thinking about purchasing this again, one for my son and myself, and also one for his second grade teacher so his whole class can enjoy the experience.
If your child enjoys the wonders of natures and would love to witness the miracle of transformation of catarpillars into butterflies, this is DEFINATELY well worth the money!
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