Critter Carnival: A Bug Examination Fun House

Photo of the Critter Carnival inside its retail packaging. The hand-held clear plastic dome contains a variety of miniature plastic playground and carnival rides.

The Critter Carnival by Insect Lore hearkens back to the day of catching a caterpillar in a jelly jar and watching it grow, build a cocoon and become a butterfly from the comfort of your family room.

The Carnival is a plastic dome filled with a miniature Ferris wheel, tightrope, teeter totter, swing, slide and maze.

Your 3 or 4-year-old catches bugs from your backyard, puts them inside and then watches their zany antics. A magnifying lens detaches from the dome’s roof for close-up views inside the biosphere.

The Carnival retails for $10, and the company makes a variety of other bug jar-type kits, with caterpillars and other bugs orderable online.

I was being facetious in saying the Critter Carnival hearkens back to the day of bug jars.

What’s wrong with poking around in your backyard with a twig or two, enjoying bugs in their natural habitat?

If you want to bring bugs inside, put them in a glass jar, small glass fish tank or terrarium. Stock the living area with dirt, leaves and whatever else the bugs need to survive. Learn about the insects instead of merely laughing at their moving around a tiny playground.

I’d love to raise some isopods (sow bugs, pill bugs, rolly pollies). They strike me as one of the least threatening insects for toddlers, and they’re not too demanding… dirt, bark, leaves, mist bottle.

Behold the Internet which tells us specifically how to raise a variety insects indoors…

The website Using live insects in elementary classrooms for early lessons in life from the University of Arizona’s Center for Insect Science tells all. The Center’s rearing sheets provide detailed information about how to stock your bug biosphere.

So… What are you waiting for? I’m waiting for my wife to get over her fear of rolly pollies.

See previous: How to host a garden snail race.


7 Responses to “Critter Carnival: A Bug Examination Fun House”

  1. adrienne says:

    If your wife is like me about bugs, you’ll have a long wait.

    When we were partially flooded in 2006 (thanks to tornado damaged gutters and freak rain- 14 inches in one hour), our basement became home to a vast colony of isopods.

    The half dozen car-engine sized dehumidifiers turned them all into roly-mummies that I unearthed when removing all the ruined carpet.

    Needless to say, they don’t inspire happy associations around here.

    May 27th, 2008 at 6:13 am

  2. Jennifer says:

    A glass jar is so much better; especially considering that those darn bugs just don’t know how to use those monkey bars! I know because I had one of these donated to the classroom once and had 16 very disappointed preschoolers on my hands when the bugs didn’t perform for them…

    No matter how you try to explain it ahead of time, they really do expect to see them perform.

    May 27th, 2008 at 7:37 am

  3. JMo says:

    ROFL Jennifer – bugs didn’t perform. :)

    I took one look at the picture and thought, wow, MPC (molded plastic crap) – not just for children anymore!

    May 27th, 2008 at 8:36 am

  4. addy says:

    I like the other product sold by the same sight the bug locket…my 4 year old would be highly fashionable with a spider necklace…she is very into catching spiders…she had a huge one last week named wolfie (he was a wolf spider) this week she has jumpy (the jumping spider) he sleeps in his bug house in her bed. scoff all you like about having bugs as pets…I am allergic to cats and dogs so bugs as pets we have.

    May 27th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

  5. CanCan says:

    This seems like it is somehow misleading children into thinking insects are “fun” and/or “pets”. I mean the set up looks fun; I can almost picture a couple of smiling lady bugs riding the ferris wheel. But I think in reality, the performance of the bugs would be disappointing. Then if they died (which they probably would)…that is just a whole other “can of worms”.

    May 27th, 2008 at 1:57 pm

  6. Jonathon says:

    Bugs have been on the “absolutely not” list at our house for awhile, but we bought something similar to this a couple birthdays ago and managed to sneak a few in under the radar.

    May 27th, 2008 at 7:26 pm

  7. gertie says:

    As a science teacher I shop at Insect Lore a lot, as part of my quest to make every child in America (or at least at my school) get up close and personal with caterpillars, ants and earthworms. We will triumph over the bug-haters!

    Insect lore used to be a very basic supply house for teachers, but they’ve branched out recently. Most of what they sell now is useless junk like the product you reviewed. A kid would be much better off with a glass jar.

    I recommend earthworms for toddlers. You’d, um, have to supervise of course, but the care and feeding is super easy. Just a few handfuls of dirt in a jar. If you cover the outside of the jar with black paper then remove it in a few days, you will be able to see worm tunnels in the dirt.

    May 27th, 2008 at 8:56 pm

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