puddling butterflies

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  • #13788

    Natasha Silcock

    Hi Jacqui

    I understand that monarchs drink from shallow standing water and this is called ‘puddling’. Is it true that it’s the male monarchs that do it, and pass on the nutrients from the water to the females during mating, or do female monarchs ‘puddle’ too?

    Also, I saw a caution that pet butterflies should’nt be given chlorinated tap water to drink. Would it likely kill them?

    Hoping you can help me out here. Can’t find the answer on the Net.

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  • #21649


    Hi Natasha, I put “puddling butterflies” into google and found a couple of interesting references.

    “Mating systems and sexual division of foraging effort affect puddling behaviour by butterflies” Ecological Entomology (1996), 21, 193-197 notes that “foraging effort can vary among age classes and between the sexes. In many Lepidoptera, young males feed from mud, dung or carrion in a behaviour known as puddling, whereas females rarely puddle. In at least one species, males transfer sodium gained from puddling to females at mating for use in egg production”

    “Dew-drinking by male monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus (L.)”, Journal of the Lepidopterist’s Society 56(2), 2002, 90-97 observed that male monarchs were more likely to drink dew from a nearby meadow and observed a correlation between dew drinking and mating, concluding that the males found the courtship and mating “dehydrating”.

    As for chlorinated tap water, it kills just about everything that it comes in contact with, so I don’t imagine butterflies would be any different.

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