Monday, September 3, 2012

Sap Sippers... Butterflies Tap the Trees

Butterflies go with flowers and flowers go with butterflies. Lovely nectar sipping nymphs, ephemeral flyers drifting among the all too short-lived flowers.

But butterflies and trees? Trees are too stolid and stodgy and old... Trees and butterflies...

While photographing mushrooms in the mulch, the wanderer's eyes were drawn skyward by a birdsong, only to spy sap sipping butterflies congregating around a wound on the shady side of a young willow oak on a hot August morn. Among them a Question Mark, appropriately enough.

Hackberry Emperor, proboscis unfurling

Red Admiral at rest

The hackberry emperor and red admiral are among the minority of butterfly species that prefer to feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, carrion or dung, rather than flowers. 

The need for water and energy drive the adult butterfly to drink. While sap and nectar generally provide butterflies with go-juice, minerals and salts obtained from other liquid sources can also improve reproductive success in some species.

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