Puddling refresher course

Young males sitting around sipping mud. Yup. That's how it is, and how it's always been. Leaning their chairs back on the hind legs during a round of Dr. Peppers in the kitchen ; having a brewski on stools in a dark tavern ; or sipping actual mud. With or without pretzels.

The thunderstorm went through about seven this morning. By noon the sun was blazing and the mud was perfect for the guys. The groups of similar species were thick on the moist ground near the lake, easy targets for photographers. They were only reluctantly roused, and some appeared a bit tipsy. The sodium and minerals the butterflies consume during "puddling" seems to aid, digestion, reproduction, and muscle-building. The behavior is risky, as the guys are targets for predators and vehicles. Plus, it's the entry to more serious imbibing in excrement, carrion, and blood. Don't let them operate heavy equipment.

When that "sweet little butterfly" lands on your shirt, remember were its feet have been. It doesn't want to be your friend. It wants to drink your sweat.

I've given up trying to ID these plentiful small butterflies from the clan of checkerspots and crescentspots. Below are some photos of a butterflies mud-puddling near a waterfall in Shenandoah National Park a few years back.

Are they playing poker?
Some of the links in this post will explain why female butterflies are less likely to be found at mud puddles. On a sad final note, a group of large adults chasing Pokemon on their phones blocked the whole trail by the dam. I hope butterflies land on them!

© 2014-2016 Nancy L. Ruder

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