Saturday, July 3, 2010


The excessive rains continue, but there are still times when some of the pond bottom is exposed. This always attracts puddling butterflies. Puddling is when butterflies sit around on damp earth and drink the mineral laden moisture from the soil. The species I most commonly see is the Eastern Tailed Blue. It’s not uncommon to find dozens of these little guys sitting at the pond’s edge.

Unlike most butterflies found around a puddle, these do not sit directly on the mud. They all sit atop pedestals formed by plant stalks or mounded vegetation. As water evaporates from the top of the pedestal, the mineral concentration in the water at that point is increased. More mineral laden water continually wicks its way up the pedestal, so the mineral content of the water in the area of evaporation becomes much higher than what would be found near the ground. The butterflies take advantage of this process to more efficiently ingest the minerals they need.

It’s primarily the small butterflies that come around the pond. Maybe the larger species are too often eaten by dragonflies or frogs. The Pearl Crescents also avoid sitting directly on the ground. They tend to sit on and drink from Chara, a form of aquatic algae.

Although it is an algae, the growth pattern of Chara makes it look much like a vascular plant having a central stalk with whorls of leaves. When minerals are present in the water, the Chara develops a calcium coating. This may also be a point of mineral concentration that gives the Pearl Crescents just what they need.

I’ve read that most puddling butterflies are males. I saw a lot of interaction between individuals, some of which was mating activity, so there must also be a few females present.


  1. Fascinating. I know very little about butterflies and found this most interesting! Most of the butterflies I'm seeing right now are Red Admirals. ~karen

  2. Very interesting. I learn more and more every time I stop by.

  3. They are all so pretty and you have some very nice photos of them....but I am jealous you know I don't seem to see to many and they move to fast to get a picture!!!

  4. Karen - I saw a few Red Admirals this morning, but none would sit still for pictures.

    Thanks, Lois.

    grammie g - I have a lot of those fast ones too. I have trouble getting any pictures of those.

  5. Perhaps this is a similiar activity to when men all meet at the 'watering hole'? :) Kinda like happy hour....