As a Christmas gift, my daughter received a butterfly pavilion and a "live creature coupon" for some butterflies. I have to say, it was a GREAT gift! If you are looking to give something fun and educational, go to the Insect Lore website. Do it. Right now! You can buy ladybug and praying mantis kits as well.
We waited until spring to redeem our coupon and the kit in the mail included two housing cups, insect food and live butterfly larvae. The larvae were teeny tiny when they arrived, and they were hungry. Before we knew it they turned into large, hairy caterpillars and quickly wrapped themselves up into chrysalids. Only days later did they come out as beautiful Painted Lady butterflies!
Chrysalids. We had ten and already nine have hatched.
Our cat is absolutely fascinated by the fluttering butterflies. She's even been caught batting at them, though they are protected by their pavilion home. It is exciting to see my daughter carefully squeeze sugar water onto a paper towel at the bottom of the pavilion with a syringe. She is one good butterfly mama! She has even decided that half of them are females, all named "Savannah" and the other half are males named "Oscar".
I took one of the butterflies out to photograph it and have to say that it was not a very good model. As beautiful as it was, it was nervous and just wouldn't stay still. And even though I knew it wouldn't bite or sting, it felt a little creepy as it walked all over my hands. However, I braved the experience just to get a good shot or two!
It's been fun for the whole family and I'm sure we'll keep the pavilion and order more critters another time. But, maybe not the praying mantis kit ... those things creep me out!