Minerals Matter


The peaceful afternoon I was sharing with an Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) was short-lived. A second butterfly swooped in and forced off the first one. Apparently, a good mud puddle is hard to find.

Puddling is usually practiced by the males of the species to gather sodium, minerals, and amino acids which are not found in nectar. They store these necessary supplements in their sperm and pass this nutritious bundle to the female during mating.

This, in turn, helps the female with egg production. So in essence, though the male has no contact with his offspring, he’s actually being a good dad.

My difficulty with this experience is, that as best I can determine, these butterflies are not males. I’m basing this on the white coloration of the two rows of spots as well as the iridescent blue scaling on the upper side of the hind wings, which are both female characteristics.

Then again, nature doesn’t have to follow the book, its not like these butterflies can read…

IMG_9163

Categories: Nature Notes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: