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Butterfly Food: What Butterflies Eat

Updated on October 6, 2010
 

Have you ever wondered what butterflies eat? There are a few different reasons that you might have thought about this question. If it was a passing thought that you didn't bother to research, you ma be unable to figure out what butterflies eat on your own. That's because butterflies really don't eat much of anything at all. They do, however, drink from certain plants in order to stay alive. Additionally, before becoming butterflies, the caterpillar will eat certain plants.

Why You Would Wonder What Butterflies Eat

There are a few different reasons that you might wonder what it is that butterflies eat. Here are some of the most common reasons that people start asking this question:

  • General musing. People who see butterflies or who are just thinking about them for one reason or another may just randomly come across this question in their minds and realize that they don't know the answer.
  • Someone else brings it up. Most people don't ever think about what butterflies eat. However, if someone else brings up the question then they might start to wonder - "yeah, that's interesting, what DO butterflies eat?"
  • An interest in photographing butterflies. The easiest way to photograph any sort of animal in the wild is to figure out what it eats and to make that available so that they will come around. People who want to take photos of butterflies may try to figure out what they eat to get them to come around and get those pictures.

Butterflies Don't Eat, They Drink

The answer to the question of what butterflies eat is deceptive because most people will answer that they don't eat anything. We all know that even insects must eat something in order to stay alive though so it's obvious that the butterfly must eat something. The truth is that they have a proboscis inside the mouth which essentially serves as a natural straw. The butterfly can insert this into flowers and fruit to drink out the nectar or juice that is inside. The butterfly can even sit atop a shallow puddle of water and use the proboscis to drink water from the puddle. Some butterflies are capable of doing the same type of things to get the liquid outside of aphids so it could be argued that butterflies sometimes eat aphids although this isn't common.

Caterpillars Eat Plants

Although butterflies don't technically eat anything, they do consume plants when they are still in caterpillar form. It's difficult to say which types of plants the caterpillar will eat or even which part of the plant the caterpillar will eat. This is because each species of caterpillar differs from the others in the plants that it will eat. The majority of them will eat the leaves of the plant but this isn't necessarily always true. It should also be noted that some caterpillars are able to eat the aphid. So if you had to answer what butterflies eat, your best bet would be to answer the aphid!

The Myth of the Butterfly

The fact that the butterfly doesn't exactly eat anything helps to contribute to prevailing myths and ideas about the butterfly and even about beauty in humans. Women are often compared to butterflies or seek to capture some of the beauty of the butterfly in their appearance. The frailty of the butterfly is enhanced by the fact that it remains on a liquid diet throughout its adult life. This is symbolized in the dieting of women.

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  • profile image

    ojp 5 years ago

    looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove it

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    kyra5773 5 years ago

    so true

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    milla 5 years ago

    I just thought there might be a plant i could plant that they would like to drink from, see they go from flower to flower, not sure if they are getting any thing from them, i know the caterpillas love swan plants, and seen i have a flower garden, and i love bumble bees and bees and butterflies and lady bugs want to encourage them to stay :)

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    Brooklyn.warren 5 years ago

    what do butterflies eat

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    Budgernaut 5 years ago

    First of all, the idea that insects must eat or they will die, and therefore butterflies must eat, is not exactly true because "butterfly" may only refer to the adult form. There are some insects that eat as larvae or nymphs, but the adult never does feed. Mayflies are great examples of this. Their adult life is entirely fueled by their nutrient reserves accumulated as nymphs. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a butterfly species that never eats except as a caterpillar.

    In response to the comment about butterflies on dog poo, they're probably trying to get nutrients they can't get from nectar. A well-known phenomenon is "mud puddling" where butterflies gather in puddles on the ground after rains and suck up the water. They get minerals and other nutrients that seep into the water from the soils.

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    mary 6 years ago

    i love butterflies lol

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    Muhamad Syafiq Asyraf Bin Afinde 6 years ago

    why do butterfly do not eat but they drink.They do not die?

  • PR Morgan profile image

    PR Morgan 6 years ago from Sarasota Florida

    I love butterflies..beautiful and very interesting! Great hub!

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    Tammy 6 years ago

    I just saw 2 butterflies on a pile of dog poo. What's up with that?

  • jogjakarta profile image

    jogjakarta 7 years ago from Yogyakarta

    Nice Blog

  • profile image

    piper 7 years ago

    hi im piper i just love buttfies theire so cutie

    i love some of thiere patterens.there my favorite

    insects

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    roanna 7 years ago

    my cat has attacked a butterflie what do i do? they are really pretty creature please help me

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    monique stone 7 years ago

    i personally love butterflys and never knew they drank their food thanks for the info!!!

  • angela_michelle profile image

    Angela Michelle Schultz 7 years ago from United States

    Interesting, I actually did not know this. I have a butterfly hub, and realized I should add this to the section of their weird tastes. Did you know some really like the taste of rotten meat. Yeah, I found that interesting about butterflies.

  • DustinsMom profile image

    DustinsMom 7 years ago from USA

    I love butterflies. They are my connection to my son. What a great hub!

  • profile image

    hi 7 years ago

    hi i like Butterflies

  • fen lander profile image

    fen lander 7 years ago from Whitstable

    Butterfly's are the living proof that God created the Universe. How could a godless universe make such divine creatures? It couldn't and it wouldn't.

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    DAMARIS 8 years ago

    THANKS FOUND A BUTTERFLY AND IT IS INJURED WELL I INJURED IT IT WAS FLYING AND I HIT IT DRIVING AND SLID DOWN MY WINDSHIELD...SO I AM NOW ITS MOMMY...I LET THE SHOWER RUN IN THE BATHROOM AS IT SAT ON A RAG SOAKED WITH WATER....HE LASTED THE NIGHT SO NOW I HAVE SOME LETTUCE AND FRUIT SO I WILL LET HIM SIT THERE AND GET NURISHED....

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    lili 8 years ago

    wow interesting

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    Junqi!@# 8 years ago

    Interesting article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Linc2010 profile image

    Linc2010 9 years ago from Whiting, IN USA

    Interesting article!

  • writing kat profile image

    writing kat 9 years ago

    caterpillers (monarch) eat Milk weed