Watch nature at work right before your eyes with this award-winning butterfly-raising kit featuring a colorful pop-up habitat, five vouchers to order caterpillars (which can be redeemed at any time), and an instruction and care manual.
Children can witness the incredible metamorphosis process from caterpillar to chrysalis to stunning butterfly. Created by Insect Lore – the original Butterflies-by-Mail Company – this kit provides an educational way for children to understand life cycle concepts.
Life Cycle of Butterflies
Butterfly gardens must provide four things to support a complete life cycle: nectar plants for adults, host plants for laying eggs, caterpillar food sources and chrysalis sites, plus shelter, water, and sun.
The female butterfly begins searching for an ideal site to lay her eggs, flying from plant to plant while using its antennae and feet for scenting and tasting purposes until she discovers where she wants them laid. A well-planned butterfly garden should provide convenient spaces that enable female butterflies to quickly find the plants of interest and increase the odds of successful hatching.
Once the butterfly eggs hatch, caterpillars will feed on the host plant until fully grown before pupating in a chrysalis and waiting until weather conditions allow it to open and reveal an adult butterfly.
Adult butterflies mate and lay eggs to produce the next generation of butterflies. Once hatched, larvae search out nectar plants they love as food sources. A butterfly garden can support this cycle, provided it is properly maintained.
As butterflies are extremely sensitive to chemicals, gardens should remain as pesticide-free as possible. Preparation must also be made for hard freezes, drought conditions, and plant monitoring to determine when or if watering or weeding needs arise. Finally, gardens should include leafy host plants and flowering varieties so the butterfly has somewhere safe to lay its eggs should that time come.
Keep a journal to document the lifecycles of butterflies in your garden, such as flower blooming or caterpillar development and butterfly metamorphosis. With careful planning, butterfly gardens can become places children and adults love visiting regularly.
Butterfly garden kits contain flowering plants that attract butterflies and leafy “host” plants that support monarch larvae. GrowWild offers an economical butterfly garden kit designed specifically for our Upper Peninsula climate that contains Asclepias tuberosa as a host plant while top nectar plants include Zinnia, Tithonia, Parsley Fennel Fennel Cosmos are among them. There’s also a plant labeling system and a STEM journal of science activities related to the butterfly life cycle experience!
This kit also contains a chrysalis hatching kit that offers young children and shut-ins an unforgettable experience as they witness Monarch butterflies emerge from their chrysalis. Easy to use and require no care after planting caterpillars, it enables children to see all stages of transformation within their own home or garden.
An ideal butterfly garden should include flowers in various colors, shapes, depths, and times that attract butterflies throughout the year. Shrubs that provide shelter against predators and wind may also help attract butterflies roosting during cold or rainy weather, as roost sites offer some welcome respite from harsh sunlight.
An additional way to attract butterflies into your garden is providing shallow bodies of water, such as puddles or birdbaths filled with wet sand, as this allows butterflies a place to stop and rest if the temperature rises too quickly during a hot day. This provides them with respite from overexerting themselves on such hot days!
Butterflies require constant access to water for survival, so providing some sources of moisture in the garden is ideal. Consider creating a shallow puddle by placing rocks in a pond, filling an old birdbath with wet sand, or even placing shallow containers of water near plants with pebbles for perching – ensure the water remains clean and fresh by regularly changing it!
Butterfly gardens provide an ecological approach to garden education while conserving wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, butterflies are highly vulnerable to environmental threats throughout their lifecycles – even fully grown adults can be preyed upon by insects such as flies, wasps, bats, birds, or reptiles.
For this to work effectively, one must understand what each plant requires for optimal growth. Aside from healthy soil and sunlight, plants must possess the correct ratio of flowers to leaves to provide food and shelter; furthermore, they must remain free of pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals that could endanger caterpillars and butterflies.
To create a sustainable butterfly garden, it is vital to plant plants that attract adult butterflies and caterpillars as well as support their offspring’s development. Select flowers that attract your local butterfly species and include various flower shapes suitable for different probosci’s lengths. Fall-blooming plants may be especially advantageous since many species overwinter as larvae.
Butterfly gardens require more than beautiful plants – they need water sources for both caterpillars and butterflies to drink from! Establishing a puddling station is simple: fill a shallow dish or plant saucer with moist soil-and-sand mix to form a wet mud-like substance that provides resting places for butterflies while they absorb minerals and other essential nutrients from its damp soil or sand surface.
Butterfly gardens differ from conventional vegetable or fruit gardens because you may need to supplement them with natural fertilizers like fish meal or bloodmeal to maximize success. Don’t be intimidated if this becomes necessary in your butterfly garden!
While this kit offers some good choices for caterpillars, it does not include host plants necessary for Monarch butterflies (such as native varieties of willow, ash, oak, aspen, and maple) or Blazing Star bog plants that will contribute to increasing biodiversity in an Upper Peninsula garden. These additional species could help improve the diversity of all butterflies.
Caretaking butterflies is an enjoyable science activity for children of all ages that teaches them about life cycles, responsibility, and patience while engaging them with nature and gardening.
Butterfly garden kits usually consist of a container to house eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises, as well as food for all stages of development, along with detailed instructions on how to raise these insects from eggs to adults. Kids of all ages can use these kits, making an engaging introduction to insect biology for young ones.
Your habitat must be prepared, and the butterflies must be fed daily, with shallow dishes or plant saucers filled with sand and soil as perfect feeding stations. Butterflies love resting on these surfaces while they soak up moisture; ensure enough of this mixture penetrates their habitat to not leave standing water. You could even add a “drinking station” by directly sinking a bucket full of this mixture into the ground for them.
Once your caterpillars reach the chrysalis stage, ensure they remain warm and dry by covering their container with a paper towel that presses firmly against the bottom and sides, covering any holes made for ventilation. Keep the lid closed to shield them from direct sunlight. Mist with room temperature water several times daily to maintain moisture levels within it.
Once caterpillars begin shaking their chrysalises, they will be transferred into their final home. Knock the caterpillars and lay them flat; they should start creating their cocoon within days or weeks.
Once caterpillars have finished wrapping, they will emerge as adults as butterflies. Emergence usually happens on sunny days, and they can typically be seen for several days after being released into their new environment. Be sure to wear gloves when handling butterflies and avoid using flea and tick killers like Advantage around their habitat or when driving.