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Neither fish nor flesh, or what butterflies actually prefer

Community and ForumBlogNeither fish nor flesh, or what butterflies actually prefer

Lev Bely, 05.02.2012 15:34

Look at this photo (the author is Renee Mertz) of a diorama at Vienna's Naturhistorisches Museum that shows butterflies sitting on a dead piranha and, seemingly... eating the poor fish?

The question is not so simple. In fact, it's not such dreadful as it would seem. There is nothing to be afraid of: butterflies and moths are positively not carnivorous by themselves. Anyway, that scene still looks freaky.

These butterflies are actually taken with a so-called “mud-puddling”, or just “puddling”. So what are they digging out? It appears that since they are pollinators and get their full ration from flowers, the nectar what they feed on lacks some vital nutrients that butterflies need to survive, so they just have to get this bit on the side. Choices vary depend upon a species, from small mud puddles with water that is rich of minerals to animal feces and, oh, dear! carrion.

As for the piranha, butterflies are surely not shredding it as predators do. Instead, they rather carefully “lick” it seeking for salts and minerals that the decaying flesh exudes. By the way, butterflies may be appealed with human sweat what they also do like. Just put your fear away and make a couple of good shots to show to your kids a real “carnivorous” butterfly:)

P. S. You are welcome to put your suggestions of what species are “piranha lovers” butterflies, just click on the photo to view it larger. Comment on the topic right here.

Boing Boing,

Butterflies licking salts of a dead fish body in the Bankhead National Forest, Alabama

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