How Often Do Butterflies Eat

How Often Do Butterflies Eat

Butterflies are one of those species that make do with what they have to get the proper nutrients. In fact, if there is nothing to eat, the butterfly will simply eject their stomach contents. Afterward, it will drink it again so it can get more of the nutrients it needs.

Butterflies will eat every day, however if a nutrition source is not found, they can go multiple days without eating. Since butterflies have proboscis, not teeth, they don’t eat as much as they drink nectar. They seek out sources that contain nutrients they need for survival. Using their feet, they can determine if where they land is good food or poisonous and should be left alone.

Do Butterflies Eat Everyday

Typically, butterflies eat every day. However, mostly a butterfly drinks liquid. They use their mouth called a proboscis which sips food.

If they’re not swallowing, they tuck it back under their chin. Butterflies are constantly on the hunt for nutrition, but if it is not found, they will either create it themselves or wait until a suitable food source is located.

There are several main things butterflies like to eat:

  • Nectar – This is produced by flowering plants and is a staple of the butterflies diet.
  • Tree Sap – Although this is a good source of energy, it doesn’t provide nutrients like nitrogen, salts, and amino acids a butterfly needs.

How Many Times A Day Do Butterflies Eat

Butterflies are more likely to drink several times a day rather than to eat. They will search out different types of liquid throughout the day that will help meet their nutritional needs.

  • Overripe or Rotten Fruit – Butterflies can’t bite, so fresh fruit is out of the question. However, they can suck juice from fruits that are far past their expiration date.
  • Mud – If you ever see a group of butterflies around a mudpuddle, it’s called puddling. After rainstorms, butterflies will congregate around mud puddles because the liquid contains salt, nitrogen, protein, and amino acids.

How Long Can Butterflies Go Without Food

Even though most butterflies eat or drink several times a day, some never seek out food. Instead, they look for another butterfly to mate with so they can reproduce, then they die.

Butterflies are not the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom, and although they need to eat, they may become distracted.

  • A butterfly prefers light instead of food, so if they are in a captive environment, place food on the brightest side of the cage. Otherwise, the butterfly will starve itself.
  • Butterflies hibernate during winter, and since they are not using up a lot of energy, they can go the entire season without eating.

Do Butterflies Need To Eat

Throughout the day, butterflies are constantly grazing and will keep searching for types of liquid. You’re likely to see a butterfly in an orchard since they like overripe fruits.

Additionally, since butterflies like to graze, this will give them ample choices during the day.

  • Mushy Apple – This is a favorite food because once the apple falls from a tree, it quickly becomes brown, and the juice is easily accessible.
  • Oranges – A lot of butterflies enjoy these as well. Typically, they will gravitate to a butterfly sanctuary because it would be challenging for the butterfly to get to the juice except when the fruit is highly rotted.
  • Peaches – These are another excellent source of nutrition for butterflies because once they fall from trees, they become soft enough for the butterfly to get a lot of nectar which provides excellent nutrients.

How Often Do Butterflies Need To Eat

A butterfly is selective about what they eat. A butterfly has taste buds in its feet, so when they land on something, they know if it’s something edible or poison.

They do eat some things that humans would find unappetizing.

  • Excrement – Animal feces contains many nutrients that butterflies need to thrive, like salt, iron, and protein.
  • Urine – Much the same as excrement, there are many minerals found in urine. Additionally, if there is not much liquid in the area, a butterfly will secrete to create some. Then, it will use its proboscis to lap up the liquid.
  • Blood and Meat – Much like feces, blood contains protein, salts, and iron. Butterflies will gravitate to rotting meat because it gives them easy access to these nutrients.

How Often Do Monarch Butterflies Eat

Monarch butterflies eat much like any other type of butterfly except during the winter when they hibernate. Then they eat very little.

Monarch butterflies typically eat only during the middle of the day. Monarch butterflies will only eat things from the milkweed family.

In fact, each part of their existence factors into these plants.

  • Since the Monarch butterflies are like other butterflies and can taste with their feet, they will instinctively lay eggs in milkweed plants because they eat a lot more in the caterpillar phase.
  • Although Monarch butterflies are not on the endangered species list, it’s less likely to see one because the amount of milkweed is declining. This is the only source of nutrition a Monarch butterfly will seek.
  • All butterflies have specific eating habits and use their feet to seek out what they need to eat. Yet, despite the Monarch butterflies having a longer lifespan than other butterflies, it can significantly decrease if no milkweed is found.

How Often Do Painted Lady Butterflies Eat

Even though Painted Lady Butterflies only live approximately two weeks after pupation, they still eat daily, much like other butterflies.

Some refer to them as the Thistle butterfly because that is what the caterpillars typically eat. Once again, they don’t have teeth, so they rely on the proboscis to eat. So, they seek out things that are juicy and sweet.

  • Oranges – These are a typical food for butterflies because they have lots of juice that is easy for them to drink.
  • Okra – Although, most butterflies, prefer sweet things, Painted Lady butterflies are fond of this vegetable.
  • Watermelon – This is another treat the Painted Lady Butterfly enjoys that others don’t put on their menu.

Helpful Tips To Know About Butterflies Eating

Raising butterflies may be a rewarding hobby. After all, seeing them emerge from a chrysalis can be highly magical.

Yet, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a steady supply of nectar-producing plants. I recommend several things to make sure your butterfly has the proper nutrients to thrive.

Before scanning through this list, one thing to remember is that butterflies prefer stuff with sugar and salt.

  • Butterflies taste with their feet, so you want to make sure the nutrition source you’re offering won’t soak them. Try a sponge or a paper towel with liquid on a plate.
  • One of the best things to give them is a mixture of honey water and sugar water. You can also use Gatorade.
  • If you notice the butterfly is not eating, you can use a paperclip to lower the proboscis into the bowl. Butterflies aren’t going to like this. It’s best to try for only a minute before waiting several hours to try again.

Final Thoughts

Since butterflies are so beautiful to look at, they capture my attention each time I see one fly by. Yet, it’s also interesting to think that they may be on their way to their next meal.

Although butterflies have a strange diet and can forget to eat from time to time, it doesn’t detract from their beauty. Butterflies may not remember a lot.

However, if they find a sanctuary with lots of their favorite foods, they will return there often.

Drew Thomas

My name is Drew Thomas and I’m the creator of Fun In the Yard, your one stop site for all your outdoor games, sports, party activities, outdoor gear, and lawn & gardening tips.

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