Take a trip north of Bakersfield and you’ll head right into one of the biggest agricultural regions in the world.
Shafter; known for more than a century, producing the best almonds, pistachios and grapes found anywhere.
But it’s what’s been growing in clear plastic cups at Insect Lore just off Lerdo highway that has captivated millions of children and families for nearly five decades.
It all began with one man’s passion and what he saw in nature…wanting to bring that experience to children all across the country.
It was 1965 when Carlos White working in the agricultural industry, came up with the revolutionary idea to bring the miraculous metamorphosis of butterflies; from the mystery of mother nature, and nto the palm of your hand.
“This was unlike anything i had ever seen,” said Marc McManamna who discovered the magic of what was happening at Insect Lore after he purchased a caterpillar kit for his 6-year old daughter.
“I couldn’t believe how enthusiastic she was everyday, showing me how these caterpillars had changed.”
How they change and grow is what makes this process, and product so remarkable.
Over the course of two weeks, five small larva will evolve into caterpillars. and in a controlled environment, eventually turning beautiful butterflies.
The insects provided all the food they will need in their life span, and customers able to release the butterflies back into nature.
So amazed by the process, McManamna left his job in the toy industry, and joined the company. “I said this is one of the most remarkable things I’ve every seen I think this show be in every toy store.”
That promise to the company’s founder, now a reality.
The business exploding in popularity in the last twenty years. insect :ore’s cup of caterpillars with a price point of less than 20-dollars, available at Target stores, and in 2007 becoming the number one best selling toy on Amazon.com.
At the height of their season Insect Lore will ship 300,000 orders each month, that’s nearly 10,000 orders processed from their Shafter headquarters.
By next year, as Insect Lore celebrates 50-years in business, McManamna estimates the company will have sent out a quarter of a billion butterflies.
”i really think there is something about a child taking a cup of caterpillars watching it metamorphose releasing the butterflies into the world, thinking from their own micro-perspective…thinking they’ve done something to help the planet.”
And its not just here on earth. In 1999, NASA sending up a cup of caterpillars into space. NASA scientists experimenting, and later proving butterflies can still grow in zero gravity environments.
A emarkable feat for the company, that began as just an idea discussed around the dinner table.
evolving into an international brand. “And to think a quarter of a billion caterpillars later, and here we are still doing it on a series of kitchen tables,” said McManamna.
All because one man had a vision to harness the power of mother nature, and share with the world, what’s made right here in Kern County.
Learn more about live butterfly kids, and a wide range of products sold at insectlore.com