Ease: Extreme. Sending away for the caterpillars is a breeze, although you may not even have to depending on when you buy your kit. The caterpillars have food provided. Once they mature, you can feed your butterflies sugar water, or just set them free.
Enjoyment: Extreme. Watching the life cycle of an insect is very cool, especially when it starts as a weird worm-y thing and turns into something legit beautiful.
Buy butterflies here.
2. Sea Monkeys
Ease: Extreme. Just add water! Feed occasionally with food provided.
Enjoyment: Mild. Sea monkeys don’t look nearly as cool as they do on the box. Also, they’re shrimp, which means you probably shouldn’t expect much in terms of neat tricks.
Buy sea monkeys here.
Cost: $8.00 just for ladybugs, $19.99 for ladybugs with a habitat
Ease: Moderate. If you buy them on their own, you will need to supply a home. Otherwise, it’s incredibly simple, and you can order the ladybugs with the habitat. Finding aphids to feed them is usually pretty easy, depending on where you live.
Enjoyment: Moderate. Ladybugs are a lot of fun to look at, which makes up for the fact that they also don’t do much. But hey, release them into the backyard and they become natural pest removal.
Ease: Extreme. Like Sea Monkeys, you need only add water.
Enjoyment: Moderate. They really aren’t any different than brine shrimp in terms of activity level, but they definitely look cooler. Triops are kind of terrifying, so at the very least you can scare young children.
Buy triops here.
Cost: $13.99 for the old-fashioned look, $15.97 for the new version
Ease: Extreme. You send away for the ants. They do the rest.
Enjoyment: Moderate. Ants are cool little creatures, and watching them tunnel around is pretty entertaining. Of course, that thrill wears off after a while, at which point you’ll start to think about all the ants you’ve killed over the course of your life. You monster.
6. Carnivorous plants
Ease: Moderate. Plants are very easy to kill, and they’re not cute enough to make you feel truly guilty if you do. On the other hand, you can totally take care of these with a little bit of effort.
Enjoyment: Mild. These are plants, not animals. If you’re lucky enough to see your plant kill something, that’s really cool. But chances are, you’re not going to catch anything aside from a few dead flies. Flies suck, though, right??
Buy carnivorous plants here.
7. Praying mantises
Cost: $14.99 for the kit, $13.00 for the egg cases
Ease: Moderate. Unlike other insect kits, you can’t just send away for your mantis egg cases with a coupon. Still, it’s not that hard to find them elsewhere, and you’ve got everything else included. Again, you can always let these guys loose to kill off your pests.
Enjoyment: Moderate. Praying mantises are awesome, but they start off tiny, which is not as fun. If you’re patient, you may see them grow into the terrifying beasts you’ve come to expect. Hey, it’s worth a shot.
Ease: Extreme. Again, you just have to send away. These cost a bit more, but they’re still way less than a dog or cat!
Enjoyment: Extreme. Beetles are great, and with the right habitat, you can really watch them explore. Plus, this is a metamorphosis kit, which means that you get to see them develop from icky mealworms to sleek exoskeleton-ed beauties.
Buy beetles here.