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Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

More New Metal Earth Models (part 1)

Metal Earth Models are great little models you build from laser-cut sheets of steel! We’ve been selling them for several years and now have added a few more great entries from the product line.  Let’s look at 3 of the new ones. We’ll start with the Ford 1965 Mustang Coupe!



Safariology: Life Cycle of Plants, Insects and Animals

Safariology is a series of models sets by Safari LTD, who are known for their toy animal kits. Safariology aims at being more educational by producing packs of 4-5 models that show the growth of an animal, insect, or plant. The first example is probably the more popular Life Cycle of the Frog:



Kristal Space Age Ant Habitat.

Ant Farms and Habitats are always a bit of a tricky area for us. Some folks consider them a standard but many customers tend to say ‘I don’t want ants in my house’. But you really can’t call yourself a science store without having some kind of Ant Habitat so we decided we would go with the best one on the market: The Kristal Space Age Ant Habitat.


Let’s get a couple things out of the way right off the top – this is a much more involved Ant Habitat kits that most. We looked over the reviews on this product and found the biggest complaint was the people did not expect to have to do anything to set up their ant farm.  The primary ‘complaint’ was that you had to make the gel. This does take some work and and old saucepan, but it does mean the child is involved in the setup much more than just dumping ants into a box with sand. Some folks cannot handle the extra work involved with this, so be warned.

Once you have made the gel, you can order your ants and plant the seeds. The included Basil seeds make this Ant Habitat really stand out. This makes the habitat have a real plant growth within the box.

Ants usually take about 2-4 weeks to arrive and the company Kristal has chosen seems to be a good one. Very few complaints about dead ants on arrival which has been an issue with some other Ant Habitats. The ants usually start digging right away or within a day or so. The gel is the ant’s food so they will probably start eating and making tunnels quite quickly.

The ants are not completely maintenance-free. The instructions suggest lifting the lid once a day.

The Habitat sits on top of a multi-colored LED light that gives the gel a nice glow. The light is battery driven and the batteries are not included, but there is a nice micro-USB port included so a better suggestion is to use an old micro-USB  phone adapter to power the light. You can also buy cell-button AG13 batteries to power it, but buying a micro-USB cord is probably more economical in the long run.

The Kirstal Ant Habitat is an excellent and involved science project for kids. It is an excellent way for kids to learn and see how ants live!

Want to buy the Space Age Ant Habitat?

Want to buy other educational insect products?



Animal Kits and Animal Concerns

A question was recently asked of us by a customer who was examining our Ecoquarium Frogs – they asked if it was cruel to keep them in such small aquariums and how they would do in a larger tank. To give this some perspective, here is the EcoQuarium tank (sold only in store – sorry).:

The tank looks small, and in fact it is small. But that really isn’t an issue because the frogs (Dwarf African Aquatic Frogs) are not very territorial, in fact if you put them in a larger aquarium they would confine themselves to about the same amount of space as the Ecoquarium.

But this kind of concern does bring up an issue that worries many: are animal kits cruel to animals?

The short answer is no, the long answer is no, but only if you buy from reputable dealers and really the concern should not be so much for the animals as the animal’s environment.

For example, we carry a popular animal known as Triops – Instant Animals or animals in an envelope.

These are nifty critters that have been around for millions of years. Their eggs are very durable and able to survive for long periods of time. When they get wet they can hatch , live long enough to breed the next generation of Triop eggs, and die after about 90 days.  These are animals that are able to survive in areas of drought, where periodic rains fill puddles and allow the eggs to hatch before the puddle dries up.

Now the concern here is not so much with the Triops – their nervous system is very basic. The concern is with how the Triop eggs are harvested. We get our kits from a company called ToyOps, which is one of the first to offer Triops. But not a month goes by without us getting some offer from a company in China, India or Africa that promises us Triop egg kits of one kind or another. These give us great pause. Why? Because ToyOps goes to great length to breed their Triops in the lab, while other companies have a tendency to send kids out into the countryside to dig up the eggs. This tends to cause damage to the area. A kid playing with a toy shovel in a pond is one thing, it is another for every square centimeter of that pond to be churned up in the search for ‘free-range’ Triop Eggs.

Off-brands can have other issues as well. Several knock-off companies tried to imitate EcoQuariums, but their health systems were much poorer and their frogs had a much higher level of Salmonella (all frogs have some) causing more than a few illness in people’s homes.

Some folks complain that perhaps no animals should be used in kits. We disagree as the educational value of children observing real live insects, Triops, butterflies, fish, frogs, etc far outweigh some discomfort they might experience in transportation. As long as you are dealing with a company that has respect for the animal it is selling you can be assured of the best education-to-concern ratio. This is not the category to try a bargain brand.

So who are the reputable brands? In our experience they are:

ToyOps – Triops and Instant Fish Kits

InsectLore – Ladybugs, Butterflies, and other insect kits

Wild Kingdom – Frogs

Uncle Milton – Ant Farms

Fascinations – Yes to their Ant Displays, inconsistent with other insect kits.

This list is by no means complete. Its just the ones we have had experience with. It does not include any companies that make insect displays, animal skeletons or non-living animals.

Oh, and let’s be sure to avoid situation like this no matter who the dealer is:


Insect Computer Mice & Other Specimens

We found that our Spider Optical Computer Mouse was actually pretty popular, so we thought it would be great to add some more types of “insect mice”.  To start with we’ve added this Black Scorpion Computer Mouse:

Scoprion Computer Mouse

Note: scorpion will not sting you while using Photoshop.

This is a fully functional optical computer mouse, with a 56″ USB cable. It even costs relatively the same as any computer mouse you might pick up at a computer store, but it is way cooler!

In addition to the scorpion mouse, we also have the Green Beetle Computer Mouse:

Green Beetle Computer Mouse

Green Beetle!


These computer mice are not the only specimen products we have added of late.  We also have this 3″ Bat specimen in Lucite:

Bat Speciment

As well as this pair of scorpions:


Fighting Scorpions!

Both of these samples make nice desktop additions or can be used as specimen samples for microscope examination.

So come on and get some great desktop displays and some extra-special computer mice!




New! Framed Insect Photos!

Regular visitors to our store have seen these before, but for others they are a new experience: Our selection of high-quality, framed insect photo artwork!

Let’s have a nice look at these:

Butterfly Pictures


These are framed pieces of artwork that are 40-3/4″ x 10-3/4″. Each set has five excellent, larger than life photos of various insects with the scientific name in attractive script.  Each photo is 5-3/4″ x 6-3/4″. Although shown in vertical, this photo series can also be arranged in horizontal. Just contact us for details.

Right now, only two of these photo sets are online, but more will be added shortly. The other available item is the Beetle Collection.

Beetles Photography Collection


In addition to have a choice of alignment, these photo sets also have excellent quantity pricing. At just 2 units the price drops from $225 to $180! A savings of 20%.  The savings only get better from there!