My sons have a few temporary cages for bug collecting. This is clearly my youngest son's favourite, because of the cute caterpillar face which reminds us of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a favourite book. The caterpillar is named "Happy Giddy" and is part of Melissa and Doug's Sunny Patch range of out door toys. Melissa and Doug are best known for wooden toys, but they do have several other ranges, all of them with some educational value, and all the ones we have bought have been of the very best quality. In short Melissa and Doug makes toys with the same quality you would use if designing the toys for your own child.
The Happy Giddy Bug House 71/2" x 3 1/2" x 3 1/2". It is made of bright green plastic with a cheery face for a door, small orange antenna and an orange carry strap. The floor has a rainbow pattern and the sides are made of a metal ( I presume steel because it is magnetic) mesh which has been painted orange. The door is very easy to open and surprising secure when in place. My sons have used this to catch and observe butterflies, moths and dragonflies. The mesh is small, about a 1/4 of a centimetre, but this is more than enough room for an ant or small millipede to escape. This cage is meant to be carried out on bug hunting expeditions, and for this purpose it is grand.
I originally bought this to keep caterpillars in. We had bought an insect lore butterfly kit which comes with a coupon for 5 caterpillars. The caterpillars are meant to be kept in a small jar, but we wanted room for them to crawl about and eat things. Sadly this did not arrive before the caterpillars and we ended up just letting them lose in the butterfly cage with a large hollyhock plant - which they destroyed. I will use for caterpillars at some point though, and I think it would be suitable for these small creatures which are content anywhere as long as they are eating. It has also been used once to house a butterfly the boys found at the park with a broken wing. In all honesty the humane thing to do would probably have been to just smash it, but that wouldn't go over well with little ones. They kept it in here for two days and seemed to be comfortable enough, feeding on juice and strawberry, but then it died. If had been able to fly though, I think this house would have been a cruel place to confine it. My sons recently bought grasshoppers as pets from a pet shop ( they are meant as reptile food. They had intended to keep them in their bug cages, but there wouldn't have been room for them to hop and we had to find a bigger home.
This bug house is very washable, but because it only has one door scrubbing out the floor to the back of the cage is more awkward. I find a small stick works well enough to push a bit of sponge about, but the National Geographic Bug Barn was far easier to clean as you could open both ends to fit a cloth through. the nylon strap does not remove for cleaning, so should this get mucky, you'll have to make do with a soapy cloth and plenty of rinsing.
I paid £5.59 for this from Amazon. I have shopped around and don't think you will find a lower price. This is sturdy and well made. It has been dropped and played with, but I would expect this to last for years. We do have the matching Happy Giddy butterfly net and I would highly recommend these as set. If you just want something for catch and release this is a lovely bug catching tool. I also thing is would be a nice addition to the live butterfly sets. If you want to collect and observe very small insects like ants though, you will need something with a smaller mesh or all plastic. There are very few insects you could really keep for a long period of time in this, but then I feel it is best to turn them lose after observing anyway. If you do like to photograph catches, as my sons do before release. the large mesh is ideal, giving you a much clearer view of the insect than the mesh on the National Geographic Bug Barn, and avoiding the reflection of a flash that you get with plastic insect cages. The butterflies tend to climb up the mesh , opening their wings and allowing a perfect photo op.