Amazonian butterflies are salt-loving butterflies that apparently sip the tears from turtles in order to attain their sodium intake needs. According to Yahoo! News this Friday, Sept. 13, researchers studying these flying creatures in the Amazon recently discovered that the forest dwellers will even fight one another to get the best spot to drink turtle tears.
These Amazonian butterflies know what’s up, and down in the rain forest, the unique sight of butterflies vying for a position near a turtles’ eyes to sip on its tears is not for show, but for health. According to researchers, these tears offer a unique source of sodium for the flying insects, as sodium is highly difficult to come by in the eastern Peru regions.
A majority of the salt that is carried into the Amazonian region from Pacific Ocean winds is often deposited on the western areas of the Andes, leaving butterflies in the eastern locales without much needed sodium in their diet. The Atlantic Ocean winds usually loses a majority of their salt content from the heavy rains before making it to the Amazon.
But these resourceful butterflies have become quite creative in getting necessary sodium intake into their own diets, even if it means resorting to sipping down turtles’ tears to do so. Although turtles are not picky eaters, what meat they do feed on provides their bodies with sodium. Some of this excess sodium is then released from the body through the tear ducts, which the Amazonian butterflies make full use of.
One such researcher in Peru said that these butterflies will drink whatever minute amounts of sodium they can find in the environment, including humans’ clothes and skin.
"I'd even bet that if you laid out on one of those logs with your skin covered and your eyes open, you may get lucky enough and eventually have a swarm of colorful butterflies imbibing on your tears, too," he added.
What do you think of these salt-loving (or perhaps better named, salt-deprived) Amazonian butterflies? Perhaps most of all, it shows the incredible works of Mother Nature, and how animals can truly adapt to many different environments by making the best of what they have, where they can get it.