Natural History Photographs


Mud-puddling

If we think of feeding butterflies, the archetypical image is that of a butterfly kissing a flower. But many butterflies favor other food sources now and then, and some are rarely observed at flowers at all. In this page I give some examples of mud-puddling butterflies.


Thymelicus lineola
Tomares nogelii
Pieris krueperi
Glaucospyche alexis
Apatura iris
Apatura iris
Melitaea arduinna
Pseudochazara pelopea

What are these butterflies after? Is it water? This might seem likely, and in very dry environments water may be important. But there are other possibilities as well, namely organic matter or salt/minerals. If the buttreflies are after water alone, one wouldn't expect them clustered, as the mud is equally wet everywhere. But salts may be more patchily distributed.


Aporia crataegi & Melitaea spec. Aporia crataegi

These Silver-washed Fritillaries are 'sand puddling'. Since water is not easily obtainable from a bonedry forest floor, these butterflies must be after something different altogether; my hunch again is it's salt or minerals.

Argynnis paphia

This Small Emperor descended only rarely from the tree tops. Once it did, it visited the remains of a campfire. The left photograph shows it feeding on ash remains, the right one resting on charcoal.

Apatura ilia