Butterflies: beautiful, delicate, and in some cases, truly majestic to behold. If you have ever seen one up close, chances are you will have been left spellbound by the way their wings look, whether it be in motion or gently at rest when they perch on your shoulder or your finger. Surely these adorable little critters feed off only on sweet sweet fairytale flower nectar to survive?
Well… not quite. While the common assumption of butterflies surviving off nectar is true for the most part, nectar doesn’t in fact contain enough nutrients for butterflies to live off on completely. Which is why a phenomenon called ‘mud-puddling’ occurs.
Relatively unknown (maybe for the better, too), this habit that butterflies have of flocking to all manner of horrors such as rotting dead animals, garbage, and yes, even blood, is essential to their ability to survive. Why? As they are not able to obtain all the necessary nutrients through nectar alone, butterflies tend to ‘feed’ off on these rather grotesque fluids for added sustenance.
‘Mud-puddling’ is termed as such because of how the phenomenon is often seen when butterflies congregate around wet soil and mud to ‘absorb’ essential salts and amino acids that are essential to their biology.
Oh, and if you ever wondered why a butterfly would rest on your finger? It’s probably drawn to your sweat, which yes, contains the salts that it needs to suck up and live off on. In fact, some species of butterflies such as the regal-sounding Purple Emperor Butterfly, subsists on animal corpses, faeces, mud puddles and human sweat exclusively according to the BBC.
So the next time a butterfly lands on your finger, think for a moment if its taking a break, or is it trying to take a sip instead?
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