The Kid Should See This

Butterflies and bees drinking turtle tears in the Peruvian Amazon

Why are these butterflies and bees swarming around turtle faces? In this episode of the Jungle Diaries, entomologist Phil Torres sees a rare sight in the Peruvian Amazon: Tear-drinking butterflies and bees. The behavior is driven by the same reason why some butterflies might feed on river mud or a steamy pile of jaguar poop: Sodium. From National Geographic:

“Sodium and some of those other micronutrients are hard to find in nature,” said [aquatic ecologist and director of the La Selva Biological Station Carlos] de la Rosa. “Butterflies and bees consume nectar, and nectar does not have a lot of salt. But they still need salt for egg production and for their metabolism.”

To scavenge the vital mineral, insects look for tears, sweat, feces, urine, and—among hematophagous insects like mosquitos—blood. Those that drink tears are referred to as “lacryphagous,” from lacrima, the Latin word for “tear.”

A similar, and better studied, insect behavior that seems to serve a similar purpose is called “mud-puddling.” Butterflies and other species that employ this strategy will congregate around and drink from puddles containing mineral deposits.

Watch another video of butterflies drinking turtle tears. Plus: Catching butterflies with the longest butterfly net in the world, a night adventure to see Nicaragua’s sea turtles, and Go Into the Heart of a Kaleidoscope of Monarch Butterflies.

This award-winning video collection is reader-supported. Become a sustaining member to keep TKSST online and free for everyone, including teachers and parents who use it as a resource to spark learning and curiosity for kids.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

eMotionButterflies & BionicANTs: Festo’s bionic insect collectives

Rion Nakaya

Make a ‘3 minute origami butterfly’

Rion Nakaya

An Alpine ibex defies gravity to lick salt

Rion Nakaya

Handling wild Silver-Spotted Skippers (Epargyreus clarus)

Rion Nakaya

The Catlin Seaview Survey: “Street View” for the Great Barrier Reef

Rion Nakaya

Critter cams on a Giant River Turtle’s back & a manatee’s peduncle

Rion Nakaya

Inside a chrysalis: ‘Painting’ butterfly wings with CRISPR

Rion Nakaya

How to Create Your Own Monarch Butterfly Rest Stop

Rion Nakaya

Zoom into a Blue Morpho Butterfly

Rion Nakaya

Get smart curated videos delivered every week.    
Subscribe