Why Do Butterflies Love Puddles?

Posted by on May 4, 2022 in Unmowed Blog | 0 comments

butterfly in mud puddleButterflies, symbol of beauty, famous for their fragility and delicacy, have an unexpected passion for something humans usually ignore: mud puddles. And the more disgusting the puddle, the better, as far as the butterfly is concerned.  A puddle of horse urine in a muddy barnyard? A damp spot surrounding a cow flop? Slimy mud covered with rotting fruit? A pool of blood? Absolutely.

Butterflies seek out puddles, drawn to their muddy margins as though to a bright garden of flowers. They crouch on the damp soil, slowly fanning kaleidoscope wings. Then, as if they were feasting on nectar from a fragrant blossom, they uncurl their long tongues and sip,

It’s obviously not nectar they’re after. They absorb water, of course, a welcome drink in heat of summer. But it’s more than just water they’re looking for. It’s minerals and nutrients they need for survival.  The same nutrients in soil and manure that nurture plant growth is essential for butterflies.

The urine of any kind of animal is high in the salts butterflies need, especially sodium, which is essential for reproduction. Salt is also an ingredient in pretty much everything that comes out of an animal body: blood, sweat, and tears. It’s the reason you sometimes see photos of butterflies perched on the nose of a crocodile or tortoise–the delicate insects are drinking the tears that ooze from the reptiles’ eyes.

 

To find out more about puddles and the amazing variety of wildlife that depend on this odd, ignored habitat, please check out my picture book: Hello, Puddle!

 

puddle tiger swallowtail butterfly

photo by Greg Dajewski

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