12 Oct 2015

Butterfly World by Interplay UK

J has enjoyed reading about the very hungry caterpillar since he was a little baby. We have followed its journey from a tiny to a big fat caterpillar and then on to a beautiful butterfly in print numerous times.

When Interplay UK offered us the opportunity to review Nick Baker’s Butterfly World, it was the perfect opportunity to experience metamorphosis in real time.

Butterfly World by Interplay UK

We were sent the kit well in advance of the caterpillars arriving. It contained a pop-up butterfly rearing cage, an information guide written by naturalist Nick Baker and all the paraphernalia required to track and collect caterpillars in the wild. As part of the review process, however, we got sent five live caterpillars in a special container with artificial food in it. They came with detailed care instructions and time scales for the metamorphosis.

Butterfly World by Interplay UK

The entire C-household was incredibly excited by the new arrivals. The journey through the post (although they were hand-delivered with a  note saying ‘Urgent – Living Creatures – Handle with Care’) had jolted the mini beasts somewhat. For they were very still for a while after we received them. Following instructions, we placed the container in a dry, warm spot away from direct sunlight and left them undisturbed.

Before long, we noticed signs of life as the tiny caterpillars started wriggling around and eating the food that came in their container.

Day 1 - tiny caterpillars

We watched fascinated as they ate and grew big in a matter of days. From tiny, thin, 5-6mm long threads, these caterpillars were long and thick with discernible features like legs and mouth within a week.

Big caterpillars

Enormous caterpillars

They continued to eat and grow and by day 12 we had our first cocoon. It took another couple of days for all the cocoons to form. We had to wait 48 hours from when the last cocoon was formed before carefully transferring them to the butterfly mesh cage.

We have our cocoons! Count 5 pupae

I took it upon myself to do this. I had to peel back the paper holding the five cocoons in the caterpillar jar, attach double-sided tape to the top and stick them to the lid of the butterfly cage. My hands were shaking, and unfortunately, one of the cocoons fell to the floor of the cage. As instructed in the care-sheet, we placed it gently on a piece of kitchen towel at the bottom of the cage. The other four cocoons stayed firmly stuck and we began counting days till our butterflies emerged.

Transfer into the butterfly mesh cage

It was another 11-12 days before the first Painted Lady butterfly emerged from its cocoon. Before long, we had all five butterflies in the cage. Three of the five were picture-perfect, with well-formed bodies and wings. The one from the fallen cocoon had not developed properly; perhaps the fall had caused irreversible damage. And another one had a tear in its wing. A stark reminder of natural selection and survival of the fittest.

Metamorphosis complete!

We placed pieces of fruit inside the cage and watched as the butterflies sucked juice with their proboscis. Oranges were more popular than apples. J was delighted and insisted that these pretty butterflies were his pets.

Feeding on an orange

5 butterflies in captivity

It took some convincing, but at last J was ready to set them free. We opened the lid of the mesh and expected them to fly off instantly. Quite the opposite. They were very reluctant to go out into the world. They were so domesticated by those few days in captivity that I was able to place them on my hand where they stayed put.

Domesticated butterflies

One by one, we placed them on flowering plants in our garden. Even there, they were in no rush to fly away. It took the better part of half an hour before they realised they really were free to wander as they pleased.

Exploring the outdoors

Painted Lady butterfly

We successfully raised and liberated three of the five caterpillars. The one with the tear in its wing lacked the aerodynamic ability to fly and was incapable of survival in the open. The one from the fallen cocoon perished shortly after it hatched out of its cocoon.

Butterfly World taught us a few things, and not just about the life cycle of a butterfly or the concept of metamorphosis. It was a life lesson to watch the development, the damage, the struggle, the reliance on freely available food, the fear of the unknown and the ultimate soaring to freedom. These little creatures were no different from us, really.

Would I recommend Butterfly World as a children’s toy? I would, but be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster as you partake of their incredible journey.


Disclaimer: We were sent a Butterfly World set and five live caterpillars for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.


  1. This looks like so much fun. Some that I think Boo will really appreciate when she is a little older. It must be magical to them =)

  2. This is such a great project and something i imagine my child would love to do! I really enjoyed seeing the pictures and we too are huge fans of the very hungry caterpillar :)

    Angela from www.daysinbed.com x

  3. You've just given me an idea for my nephew Christmas present! It look so cool! :)

  4. Wow! This looks so so so much fun! I'm a teacher and we're doing life cycles soon - maybe I'll have to buy one for them to try! x

  5. Love this review. we have done something similar in the nursery and the kids were just memorised every day at the changing the caterpillars went through. It was sad when we had to let the butterflies go

  6. I think this is such a fab thing for kids to do. Great review, thanks for sharing it x

  7. What a beautiful experience for all of you. My son did this in school, but I might get one for my daughter to try out, too.

  8. I don't know how I feel about the butterflies being reared in captivity but I do like the ethos behind it where it teaches children how natural selection and metamorphosis works. Great post x

  9. Don't hate me, but I absolutely hate butterflies. They really freak me out. I'm glad you enjoyed it though! x

  10. What an amazing kit. My kids would love to watch the amazing transformation - I'm going to look into this for Christmas. Getting 3 out of 5 into the wild is a great success! That's so cool they would sit on your hand! Fab photos x

  11. We have tried this with a different brand. Monkey loved it and I think its a great way to teach them about the lifecycle, really brings the book to life too :). You managed to get some lovely photos of the butterflies, most of ours came out blurred and were not that keen to stick around after. Could be something to do with an almost 3 yr old wanting to stroke them!! :) Something I will definitely be doing again next year. xx http;//www.mudpiefridays.com

  12. Oh, that's so incredible, I would have loved this when my girls were younger - kids get so much from nature and learning about science first hand like this is amazing. Butterflies are so beautiful also.

  13. This looks amazing, I love how you were able to hold one of them. What a great idea t help children to learn xx

  14. Oh how amazing! I`m actually a huge whimp whos scared of anything that flies so I couldnt possibly use this, but I can see how amazing it would be for kids! xx

  15. Oh gosh this is incredible, I had no idea you could do this. So much for children to learn. I will definitely do this at some point x

  16. Such a fab way to get kids to understand the lifecycle of butterflies.This would be great for my girls to do for next year.

  17. Oh my god! This looks amazing. My friends kid would love this. I didn't know such a thing existed and she is OBSESSED with butterflies


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