Butterflies are some of the most beautiful creatures on earth. These flying insects belong to the order Lepidoptera, as well as the moths. There are approximately 20000 species of butterflies in the world, and most of them are diurnal, which means they are usually active during the day, and they spend the night sleeping. These lovely insects have different patterns of behavior and different habits. Some of them may migrate over long distances, to lay their eggs, while some other cultivate symbiotic and parasitic relationships with insects that live in large colonies, namely ants. When we look at the butterflies, it seems like they carelessly fly around enjoying the nature. Therefore, one of the most common questions regarding the butterflies is do they eat at all and what do they feed on.
What do butterflies eat?
To answer this question correctly, we should take various phases of butterflies’ life in the account. A single butterfly lives through four phases during its short life: egg, larva, pupa and adult. In the phase of an egg, which lasts for a couple of weeks, nutrition is very important, since many of the species migrate to lay their eggs somewhere where the larvae or caterpillars will have something to eat when they get out of the egg. Butterfly larvae complete their nutrition by eating plant leaves near which they were born. Through a complete life stage of caterpillar, the butterfly actually searches for food. Some species live in the synergy with ants, and even communicate with them using vibrations and chemical signals.
When the larva is fully grown, it starts producing hormones and completely stops feeding. In this phase, the larva is searching for the suitable pupation site, usually a stem or a leaf. When it finds a spot it attaches to it and transforms into pupa or chrysalis. In this phase, butterfly goes through metamorphosis and finally transforms into an adult butterfly.
Adult butterfly diet
An adult butterfly doesn’t eat in the traditional sense of the word, but it feeds by drinking nectar from flowers. Butterflies also feed on pollen, three saps, juices from rotting fruit, dung, dissolved minerals in the dirt, and even on the decaying flesh. Some of the butterfly species feed on particular flowers and usually bypass other available flower species, no matter if they could be even more rewarding. This way, butterflies act as important pollinators.
A couple of species of butterflies have increased need for sodium, and they are attracted to salt. These butterflies may even land on humans, attracted by their sweat.