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Friday, June 14, 2013

Puddling? A Butterfly Effect

Yesterday morning as Drewman and I were leaving for work,
I noticed the elm tree, at our gate entrance, was covered with butterflies.
It was as if they were swarming like a hive of bees!

When we returned home yesterday evening,
The butterflies were still at the tree!

Flower Boy and I took a walk with the camera.

Upon closer inspection there were red wasps, bees, flies and other insects on the tree too.
None were aggressive.
It looks like they are eating or drinking in the dark moist spots of the tree.

Check out these freaky things!
Flower Boy thought it was a snake, at first sight.

After taking the pictures, we did some research to find out what the butterflies were doing.
Are they drinking?
Are they eating something?
Are they resting during migration?
Just what the heck are they doing?

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Services Wildlife Habitat Management Institute,
The butterflies are "Puddling"!
Puddling is more of a nutrient uptake than a water requirement, for the butterflies.
Normally, butterflies are seen puddling around mud puddles, damp sandy areas, campfire rings, salt licks and urine spots.
There is a nutrient or mineral in the elm tree that the butterflies can't get from nectar of flowers.
One video states "Only the male butterfiles puddle."

Is it the sap secreting from the tree?
Is it there has been so much rainfall that the bark of the tree is filled with moisture?
Is it the algae growing on the tree?
We didn't find the answers.

There are several other trees in that area.
Other elm, cedar, cottonwood, dogwood, redbuds...
The butterflies are only on this elm tree.

As Drewman and I were leaving this morning, the butterflies were still at the tree!
We think it is a good sign!
We are glad they are there!

Have you ever seen this?
Do you know anything about butterfly puddling?

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