We’re very excited about our new range of nature kits, which allow you to grow butterflies from caterpillars in your own home (or school). We’ve even had a go at growing them ourselves, and it’s been incredible to watch these tiny creatures develop into beautiful Painted Lady butterflies.
Created by Insect Lore Europe, these kits are available in our gift shop, priced £17.99. They come with detailed instructions, but here are a few tips to give you an idea of what’s involved.
- 1. Inside your kit you’ll find a voucher for your caterpillars to redeem online. They’ll arrive in a cup, which will also contain their food.
- 2. Make sure you leave the lid on. The lid has lots of tiny holes, to ensure they will get plenty of fresh air, so don’t put anything on top of it.
- 3. Keep the cup upright and away from any drafts that could knock it over. It’s also very important that you keep it away from direct sunlight.
- 4. You might notice some of the caterpillars have covered themselves in silk webbing. They do this to protect themselves and will continue to
- spin this silk around them as they grow.
- 5. It will take your caterpillars around seven to 10 days to become butterfly cocoons. By this time, they will have shed their exoskeleton (outside covering) four times – and should be 10 times bigger than their original size.
- 6. When they have fully grown, they will climb to the top of the cup and hang from a paper disk, under the lid. This is a delicate time for the caterpillars, so it’s important you don’t disturb them.
- 7. After two to three days, they’ll be ready for their new home. Gently open the cup and remove the lid, with the chrysalides (cocoons) attached. Remove any strands of silks surrounding them, so they don’t get tangled up as they emerge.
- 8. Place them into their Butterfly Garden habitat with a super-clean mesh (included in the kit).
- 9. After seven to 14 days, the butterflies will be ready to leave their cocoons. They will need to rest for a couple of hours, so don’t disturb them. Leave them some fruit or sugar-water to eat.
- 10. You can release your butterflies two to four days after they have emerged. Try to choose a warm day above 12℃, without too much wind.