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DIY Insect or Small Creature Container for Kids

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 4 3

Kids are always collecting insects and small creatures around the house.  Where do you keep them to observe?  Usually you use a plastic left-over container from around your house.  You then need to poke a few holes in the top, which usually cracks the lid.  This can allow the creature to escape in your house.  Yikes!  Also, it doesn’t make for a great observation because the lid is tinted in a color and the image can be distorted. 

An easy do it yourself bug observation container, will take you 5 minutes and your kids can use it over and over again.  I use them for raising my caterpillars and my students have really enjoyed the clarity with which they can observe the caterpillars and other insects during observation.

Follow the EASY step below and you’ll have a science observation container in no time!

Spicebush Swallowtail in Homemade Container

Look at the Clarity through black tulle fabric!

Homemade container with a caterpillar
Credit: butterflyteacher (me)



1 -Glad, Rubbermaid, tub from Oscar Mayer lunch meat, any plastic container with the lid

1- Pair of scissors or exacto knife- (adults/parents only!)

Mesh screen- from an old screen door/window or *tulle fabric (used in weddings for party favors etc.) - size depends on the size of lid to the container

* I use black tulle because there is no glare and it is crystal clear- you would have to buy this at a fabric store- a little more detailed and not necessary. 

Materials Needed

Needed Materials
Credit: butterflyteacher(me)

Construction Steps


  1.  Using scissors or an exacto knife cut out the center of the lid.  Leave the lip so that it can close over the bottom of the container.  I usually use rectangle or square containers to make easier cuts.
  2. Lay the lid on the mesh screen and cut the mesh a little bit larger than the lid.  That way the mesh will hang over the edges, making the cage escape proof.
  3. Put the cut mesh screen on the plastic container and clasp the cut lid on top.
  4. Capture an insect or creature to watch or put one in there to raise.
  5. Enjoy observing nature!  If your kids are old enough, maybe you can have them write or draw a picture about the experience of observation- this will help them make it a lasting memory!


Alternate:  If you happen to crack the lid- just use a rubber band to hold the mesh in place, and don’t worry about using the lid- this is another method that works well!


I make many of these to help me to raise the Monarch and Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillars.  Try this out with different containers.  It is a cool way to reuse materials around your house and utilize what you usually put in the recycling bin.  Let me know how it works for you!


Plastic Container Samples

Samples of Plastic Containers
Credit: butterflyteacher(me)

Sample Cut Lid

Lid that has been cut
Credit: butterflyteacher(me)

Final Product

Container with Mesh Lid
Credit: butterflyteacher(me)

Alternate Creature Container

Incase you break the lid while cutting- use a rubberband

Creature Container Alternate Design
Credit: butterflyteacher(me)


Aug 9, 2012 1:08am
Are you ever too old to collect bugs (or other insects)? Cute article.
Nov 28, 2012 9:41am
Nice article and tutorial! I will be doing this with the munckins.
Dec 13, 2012 4:48am
I remember keeping silk worms like this as a kid.
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