Sometimes, something so amazing happens that it’s almost too difficult to capture it in words. This time, it’s a butterfly, drinking the tears from a turtle’s eyes. No one is suffering or in any pain though. Julia Butterflies (Dryas iulia) are seen drinking the tears of turtles in Ecuador. The turtles placidly permit the butterflies to sip from their eyes as they bask on a log. This “tear-feeding” is a phenomenon known as lachryphagy which is a type of mud-puddling.
It’s also a fairly common behavior, reported in many other insects; they seek out certain moist substances such as rotting plant matter, mud and carrion and they suck up the fluid. Where the conditions are suitable conspicuous insects such as butterflies commonly form aggregations on wet soil, dung or carrion.
he incredible photo was recently named Wikimedia Commons 2014 Picture of the Year.
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!