Raising butterflies

This was such a good bit of fun, I just have to share it here even though we did it a few months ago. The girls were given money for Christmas so we used it to buy an Insectlore Butterfly Garden. The netted butterfly enclosure was delivered with instructions and a voucher code to order the caterpillars.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis

Here are the caterpillars when they arrived. One hadn’t hatched yet. They grew scarily big rather quickly. I wish I’d taken a picture of the massive caterpillars. Definitely a real-life illustration of The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-2

Eventually, they crawled to the top of the cup and hung in “J” shapes, growing cocoons. I’ve made this image black and white to spare you the caterpillar poo.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-3

Giving all the caterpillars time to go into cocoons and for their cocoons to harden, we transferred the disc at the top of the cup to the butterfly garden, pinning it to the netting.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-4

It was hard to believe that something was actually going to happen to be honest. I was so paranoid that somehow it wouldn’t “work”! But then one morning, we came down and there was fully formed butterfly, drying its wings.

Talitha, then 3 going on 4, was absolutely mesmerised by the whole thing but so was I. How could our caterpillars have become something so different? It was like observing a miracle.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-10

We gave our butterflies fruit and sugar water to eat.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-11

The only thing I would have done differently is line the bottom of the enclosure with kitchen roll as the instructions suggested because the new butterflies expel a lot of red meconium and it’s sticky stuff.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-8
Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-9

We kept a magnifying glass next to the cup and the garden to observe the caterpillars/butterflies through the entire process. When they’d all emerged, Talitha decided to draw them. We also printed and laminated a life cycle poster from Twinkl to refer to while we talked about what was happening.

Finally, it was time to release our butterflies since I didn’t want to have to care for LOTS of new caterpillars.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-14

We’ll definitely do this again. We can keep the butterfly garden and keep ordering new cups of caterpillars or we might even just try bringing some in from the garden (along with whatever plant we find them on).

This post contains affiliate links.


  1. August 21, 2015 / 8:56 pm

    Wow what an amazing thing to do, great to see the life cycle. x

  2. August 22, 2015 / 12:11 am

    We have wanted to try one of these out for years. It looks like a great idea to see the life cycle of a butterfly.

  3. August 22, 2015 / 7:36 am

    How lovely! My son and I did this project a few weeks ago and we actually did a YouTube video of the process too – it was a wonderful sight when the butterflies flew away at the end! You’ll find it on my blog if you search for ‘Butterfly’! It’s such a fun and enlightening project isn’t it?

  4. August 22, 2015 / 8:40 am

    We love doing this so much we have done it every year and this year we had a lot of caterpillars from my friends garden and had a dozen cabbage white’s emerge
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  5. August 22, 2015 / 10:50 am

    Wow these look great. Think I’ll get one for us 🙂
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  6. August 22, 2015 / 12:37 pm

    Oh we really need to get this butterfly kit, the kids would absolutely love it. Must check it out, not sure if there is a right time of year to do it, I presume summer?
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  7. August 22, 2015 / 1:47 pm

    I think this is fab for showing children who a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.
    A lovely post.

  8. August 23, 2015 / 7:54 am

    Oh I meant to do this during the summer and forgot. Wonder if it’s too late now.
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  9. August 23, 2015 / 9:58 am

    This is such a great way for children to learn about the life cycle of butterflies!

  10. August 24, 2015 / 8:58 am

    This is such a lovely idea, what a brilliant thing to do. Did you keep it in the house or outside? So getting this as a Christmas present, thanks for the idea x

  11. August 24, 2015 / 9:39 am

    This is lovely. We have done the kit for the a couple of years, then last year as we found a family of caterpillars we raised them. Such a lovely thing to do with children x
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  12. August 24, 2015 / 12:27 pm

    Wow it looks great! I didn’t know there was such a thing, will definitely try it. It will be hard for me though as I have a phobia of moths and the whole process completely creeps me out but I will have to move pass it as it must be so fascinating for kids! x
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  13. August 24, 2015 / 6:19 pm

    This is sooo cool, my kids would LOVE it! They are fascinated by caterpillars and we tried to keep one as a pet on holiday but I think w might have fed it the wrong stuff 🙁 Anyway, have added this to my wishlist!! Thanks for sharing x

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