If you are at all familiar with my main blog, Stimeyland, you know that I don't have the best of track records with small, captive creatures. First, I accidentally let mold take over my ant farm and then there were the tadpoles. The poor, doomed tadpoles.
So when Insect Lore offered to let me try out one of their bug-raising habitats, I headed into it with some trepidation. I chose Ladybug Land because ladybugs are cute. And because they seem hearty.
I'm going to cut right to the chase here and tell you that this story has a happy ending. Even I couldn't kill ladybugs. Now they are happily frolicking in my backyard.
Ladybug Land is a cool little dome that comes with either live ladybug larvae or a coupon to order them. Ladybug Land is really easy to set up. All you do is use the enclosed water dropper to put some water in there and then drop the ladybug larvae and their food in. You do have to remember to give them water every day or two, but other than that, this bug habitat maintains itself.
I also liked Ladybug Land a lot because it was really easy and fast to see changes in the bugs. The larvae are nothing like what you expect, but they are fun to watch and they move around a lot.
It only takes a few days for them to get rounder and more ladybug-like.
Shortly after they get rounder, you will become convinced that your ladybugs are dead. It will look like there are dried up husks of ladybugs stuck to Ladybug Land. You may try to hide the evidence from your children and order another vial of ladybug larvae.
Never fear. They are doing something known as "pupating." I don't know where they are hiding or what they're doing in there, but after a couple of days, voila! You will have Pink Spotted ladybugs!
I was extremely nervous about killing the grown ladybugs after they reached their full potential, so after just a couple of days, I opened Ladybug Land, found a shady, grassy spot in the yard, and wished them well.
I returned only to confuse my neighbors by taking photos of what, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be dirt, but was really way more awesome.
The fact that I could release these guys is a big part of why I recommend them. When I had my ant farm, I wasn't supposed to let them go in my yard, so when mold started taking over their ant farm, there wasn't a lot I could do. I really liked that I could raise these ladybugs and then let them go.
I would highly recommend Ladybug Land. At $19.99 for the habitat and larvae, it's a fun, easy science experiment and a great way to teach your kids about the life cycle. Plus, you can't find a cuter bug to raise. Insect Lore offers all kinds of fun supplementary products, including models of the ladybug life stages, posters, puzzles, and more, but you could easily find a ton of free information online about your bugs.
Insect Lore has lots of cool stuff. You can raise butterflies and ants, frogs, worms (yeccchhh), plants, and even praying mantises (so cool!).
I got a lot of joy out of Ladybug Land, which I put right next to my computer on my desk for optimal viewing purposes. My kids thought they were cool too. If you're interested in watching metamorphoses in action, I would definitely check out Insect Lore.
(You can read the tales of my ladybug-raising career here.)
Honesty Clause: Insect Lore sent me a Ladybug Land and ladybug larvae ($19.99) at no charge for review purposes. They also sent a lifecycle poster ($4.99) and models of the life cycle stages ($5.99). After I thought I killed the larvae, I ordered a second set of larvae ($14.99) all on my own with my own cash.