What do Butterflies Eat
Adult butterflies eat (in fact, they drink) nectar from flowering plants, using their straw-like tongues. While most butterflies may eat from different nectar sources, some are picky eaters and like to feed on specific nectar-producing plants. There are species, such as Mourning Cloak and Question Mark butterflies, which do not drink nectar but get nutrition from organic matter like rotting fruits, tree sap, or animals.
How do Butterflies Eat
Butterflies have a long, straw-like structure, called a proboscis, which serves as their sucking mouth part. When butterflies eat, they extend their proboscis deep into the flower to drink nectar, but when it is not in use, the straw-like tube coils up. The butterflies also use their proboscis to sip water and juice from fruits.
What are the Food Sources of some Common Butterflies
|Butterfly Species||Food Source|
|Black Swallowtail||Clover, thistle, milkweed, phlox|
|Painted Lady||Thistle, nettle|
|Blue Morpho||Fermented tree sap, rotting fruit, fungi|
|Skipper||Shrubs, trees, grasses, reeds|
|Peacock||Clover, dandelion, willow, rotten fruit, tree sap|
|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail||Milkweed, honeysuckle, ironweed, lilac, phlox, wild cherry|
|Common Blue||Sweet pea, grass pea|
|Karner Blue||Raspberry, goldenrod, rock cress, butterflyweed|
|Zebra||Verbena, Spanish needle, lantana|
|Purple Emperor||Aphid honeydew, tree sap|
|Orange-tip||Garlic mustard, cuckooflower|
- Some butterfly species, such as Monarch butterfly, can live with having little or no food for five months.
- Most butterflies are fond of fruits like grapefruits, oranges, strawberries, bananas, apples, peaches, cantaloupe, and nectarines.