The World Alive Butterfly Kit is a traditional butterfly kit in many ways, but with one difference – the caterpillars supplied are for Large White butterflies. All the kits I’ve seen normally supply Painted Lady butterflies, so it was refreshing to see something different and exciting to see how these turned out.
[NOTE 2016: Unfortunately, you can no longer find this nature kit in Amazon or anywhere else. Looking at the World Alive website, even their product list no longer shows the butterfly kit, and caterpillars can no longer be ordered. That’s a real shame as I felt that this kit offered something different from everyone else].
I’ll leave my basic review on this page though for completeness and just in case the Butterfly Kit gets resurrected at a later date (hopefully!). In the meantime though you can get either the Insect Lore Butterfly Kit (US and UK) or the more recent My Living World Butterfly World (UK only).
The World Alive Butterfly Kit comes supplied with mesh habitat, instructions, magnifier, tweezers and pipette and is suitable for children aged 4 years and upwards.
Unusually, the kit provides caterpillars for the Large White butterfly. I say ‘unusual’, because all the butterfly kits I’ve experienced provide caterpillars for the Painted Lady butterfly. So that’s nice to see. Obviously the Large White is resident to the UK and across Europe.
I don’t believe this kit is sold in the USA. At least not under that name. I’ve seen a Fascinations Butterfly Kit which is a World Alive product, but that seems to have the Painted Lady caterpillar. Looks like stock is nearly non-existent on Amazon.com at the time of writing, so it’s possible the USA product has been wound down too.
The habitat is slightly different to many others on the market. It does have a couple of mesh sides for the caterpillars to climb, with all other sides being clear plastic to see inside more easily. There’s the usual zip access on the top.
The difference is the fact it unfolds to be a cube, unlike most others which tend to be taller and cylinder shaped. It doesn’t make any difference to the outcome, it’s just an observation.
When you order and receive the caterpillars, you’ll receive a small pot which has, what looks like, shredded cabbage inside as food, as well as 5 to 7 caterpillars. Mine arrived all safely, even after 7 days in the post. The pot comes with a sellotaped lid and it’s best to leave that on so that none escape until you are ready to transfer to the main habitat.
Make sure there are no holes or tears in your habitat. At this stage the caterpillars are very small and may escape if you give them the means! I bought a fresh cabbage and placed a leaf on the bottom of the habitat before transferring them from the pot. That way they had a good reason to stay put!
Actually, they are quite ferocious eaters and it’s amazing to watch them devour the large cabbage leaf. You will be able to see the day-by-day growth which is quite phenomenal at this stage. Change the leaf as often as you can. Once the leaf starts to go yellow it’s of less value to the caterpillars, so keep them well fed with fresh material.
It won’t be long before you see them climbing the mesh side of the habitat. Once they do that you’ll know they are ready to turn into a chrysalis. It may be a day or two before all the caterpillars have climbed the mesh. Try not to disturb them at this stage. You’ll see the rounded, uniform-shaped caterpillar start to turn into something that’s a bit more angular in places and bigger at one end than the other. The transformation is well under way!
Another couple of days and one morning you’ll probably be presented with a butterfly or two. If you’re very lucky, you might actually catch it emerging from its chrysalis. I’ve yet to do that, so let me know if you do. What time did it emerge?
After a day or so, and once all the butterflies have emerged, it’s time to release them into the garden. If you have flowers nearby, try releasing them near the flowers. I’ve even encouraged butterflies onto my hand inside the habitat and carried them to a flower myself! It’s very rewarding to see them start feeding immediately!
Don’t pick them up by the wings though, you may damage the very fragile scales. Just gently push them onto your hand or finger. You’ll usually find they are docile enough at this stage to comply. Do this in the garden though, not indoors. If they decide to fly, you’ll want them free, not trapped inside, probably against a window.
Hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did. Let me know how you got on.