Monday, October 26, 2009

How do Butterflies Drink?


While out in “Elizabeth's Secret Garden” Detective Joshua noticed that butterflies don't have a mouth like people. Instead the butterflies were using a long straw to drink nectar. Detective Joshua learned that a butterfly's drinking straw is called a proboscis. When not in use the proboscis is kept curled up.


As the butterfly flies to each flower it inserts its proboscis into the flower (or fruit). Bees pollinate flowers by caring pollen on their bodies, but butterflies pollinate by collecting pollen on their proboscis and moving it as they fly to each new flower.


Butterflies drink from other sources besides flowers. Detective Joshua was surprised to learn that butterflies drink from rotting fruit, dead animals, and animal waste. A few butterfly species prefer rotting fruit to flower nectar. Red Admirals , Red-spotted Purples, Commas, and Mourning Cloaks are the butterflies who often feast on fruit. Fermenting fruit actually contains a natural alcohol. If to much fermenting fruit is digested it can cause the butterfly to become dizzy. People have noticed this strange behavior in Red Admirals who often dine on fermenting fruit.

drinking from stones (resized)

Butterflies obtain minerals and salts by drinking from moist stones, mud, and sand. This is known as,”puddling”.  Males are more likely to be found “puddling” because they need these minerals for mating. You can easily create your own “puddling” site by burying a bucket to the rim, then filling it with sand, dirt, or even small stones. Next add water so the soil is moist. Make sure you check the soil regularly.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to know how you got so smart as young as you are. :)