13 July 2017

Puddling - updated

These are Purple Emperor and Lesser Emperor butterflies (Apatura genus) getting nutrients from the body of a dead frog.  Butterflies that "puddle" at muddy spots or on scat or on carrion (as shown here) are seeking sodium, which is rarely found in plants (potassium is the principal cation in vegetation).

Photo source, via Uncertain Times.

Reposted from 2011 to add this relevant photo of Eyed Browns by Douglas Buege, via Wisconsin Butterflies' Recent Sightings webpage:


  1. This reminded me of a compelling scene from Martín Prechtel’s wonderful book, "Secrets of the Talking Jaguar", where, exhausted and alone in the Mexican jungle, bearing skin lesions and other wounds:

    “I woke up completely armored in blue butterflies. From my hair to my toes, no part of me was visible. Thousands of bright powder-blue butterflies formed a three-inch-thick jittering husk of shining, sky-colored insects who’d hover when I stirred, then settled again, refusing to take off. I walked a little, shaking my arms, and the butterflies came along like little pets, clinging in places as I moved, giving me a new skin of light, shimmering indigo. . . . I must have looked like a man made of blue butterflies.” (pp. 54-55).

    Now I know what they were doing!

  2. the first time i saw puddling, it was while camping, at a place where there was a lot of pee. it kind of grossed me out, but then i figured out why they were there.

    i have had red admirals land on my finger tips or forehead, no doubt to suck up some salt?

    p.s. red admirals - best butterfly ever! when i go out in the yard, i will get buzzed, they let me approach real close, like inches, and, i like those 'dog fights' where two or three or more circle around each other, really close.



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