What Do Butterflies Eat

We rarely think about what do butterflies eat. But it is interesting to know that this vibrant beauty in itself has its own eating habits. To know more about them, read on...
We often see the butterflies sitting on bloomed flowers and savoring the nectar found in different colorful and bright flowers. But we never see them eating anything. That is because they do not eat anything! Yes, butterflies do not eat anything, they just drink nutrients. They can only eat something that is soluble in water. It is quite interesting to see how nature has designed the anatomy of the butterflies. A butterfly has a unique life cycle. There are four life stages of the butterfly, namely the egg, caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly. A butterfly does most of its eating when it is in the caterpillar stage. Different species survive on different plant materials during the caterpillar stage. As they develop and emerge as butterflies their anatomy changes again where in they can just drink through their antenna like proboscis.

What Does a Butterfly Eat?

Different types of butterflies have different eating habits but almost all of them have one thing common and that is drinking or absorbing the nutriment from the nectar through proboscis. Given below are some of the things that butterflies relish.

Pollen and Nectar
It is the staple butterflies diet. Butterflies are attracted towards bright, vibrant, and colorful flowers. Most of the butterflies prefer to survive on flower nectar which are full of essential nutrients and sugars which give butterflies instant energy and vitality.

Rotten Fruits
Rotten fruit is another favorite food of almost all the butterfly species. They do not really eat the fruit but suck in the juice of the fruit through the proboscis. Rotten fruits are high on sugars and water content. It makes it easy for the butterflies to suck the nutrients and sugar. If you are wondering what do monarch butterflies eat, then rotten fruits are their personal favorite too.

Animal Dung and Bird Dropping
This is again a common and popular food choice of many butterflies. The excreta of the animals and birds contain minerals that are essential for their survival. But it is essential for the excreta to be fresh and wet so that its easier for the butterflies to suck in the minerals.

Tree Sap
Many butterflies also relish tree sap. They suck the essential nutrients from the tree saps but each species have its own favorite plant to suck the sap from. Some butterflies are not very choosy and savor any plant sap that comes their way but others cannot drink tree sap from other than their favorite plant.

Salt and Sweat
Yes, butterflies are attracted towards sodium found in salt and sweat. Sometimes you may have noticed in the gardens and parks that butterflies sitting on humans. They cause no harm but suck in the small amount of sodium from our skin, in case it is available.

If you want to keep pet butterflies and are wondering what to feed them, then water and honey mixture is the ready answer. Many people feed their pet butterflies with rotten fruits as well. Now you know what do butterflies eat and drink. Let's see how do they do it.

How Does a Butterfly Eat?

One of the interesting facts about butterflies is that they can guess the taste of the food from their feet! Isn't it interesting? Butterflies are cold blooded and for smooth blood circulation they come out of their home early in the morning to take good sun bath. Simultaneously, they also look for their food. They generally linger around gardens, or colorful tree and plant areas. When they sit on a particular flower or a plant they can get an insight on how the nectar will taste. If the taste is something that they were looking for then they immediately start sucking the juice. Their proboscis is a hollow tubular mouth, just like a straw, through which they suck in nutrients and minerals. Butterflies also have a unique community eating pattern generally followed by the male butterflies, known as puddling. In the puddling, many butterflies gather on a wet or muddy, or shallow watery area where they pump in a lot of water through the digestive tract and enjoy a sunny drink.

If you want to closely observe the peculiar eating habits of the butterflies you can visit various butterfly gardens and take a closer look. I hope this information was resourceful for you!!!
By Geeta Dhavale
Last Updated: 9/21/2011
Bouquets and Brickbats | What Others Said