Saturday, December 19, 2009

Puddling Butterflies

On a recent post, butterflies puddling brought questions. Frequently in warm weather I see little groups of tiny yellow sulphurs grouped around a wet spot on the ground.



The Butterfly Lady in this area, Julie Neel, tells in her lecture on butterfly gardening of having a bowl of wet sand to attract butterflies to puddle. It was never very successful until one day when her small grandson, helping in the garden, said, 'Nana, I need to go tee-tee.' She waved over in the general direction of the edge of the butterfly garden and told him to just go over there. Next thing, she looked up to see him urinating in the sand bowl. After that, the butterflies found it very attractive. Plain damp  spots seem to work, too. Butterflies don't take baths.

Different butterflies are attracted to different minerals in the soil and nutrients in rotting fruit and animal dung. I found wonderful articles by CL Boggs, LA Jackson and CE Sculley where you can learn more about butterflies' puddling habits and how it affects their reproductive process. My links didn't work. These and many more articles can be found by searching for 'Butterflies Puddling' through Google or another search engine.

'Nectaring' on a dirty dog bed
I've even seen Red Spotted Purple butterflies land on the dog's dirty bed and graze a while.

9 comments:

  1. That is so interesting. Especially about adding minerals....I have used boulders with depressions for water and then have drip tubing replenish the water there when we irrigate. At home, maybe I will have to set my dog's bed out to air and see what happens :-)

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  2. NellJean, every year I set up my "Butterfly Bath" (a bird bath with smooth river rock in it). And have never had any luck getting butterflies to come to it. Thanks for this post, so many questions were answered at on time. I have noticed butterflies pubbling (never knew it had a name)here and there. Now i know to pay attention to the soil/muck/ect that there at so I can reproduce it to lure various types closer. Thanks Again - G

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  3. Puddling is an exclusively male butterfly thing. Females have no need for minerals. I have seen clouds of sulphurs in puddles it is so cool to find them.

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  4. Lord knows what a butterfly would find in our dogs' bedding.

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  5. I forgot to say that it was only males who puddle. Thanks, Randy.

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  6. interesting. I'll have to get my husband to tee tee in my garden and see what happens.

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  7. I learned about this in a Master Gardener class, and every summer since then I have provided a dish of water containing horse dung. I usually place it in the vegetable garden where I want to attract pollinators. It needs to be in the sun :) Amazing isn't it?

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  8. I only learned about butterfly puddling a year or so ago. It is so interesting. I've thought about putting a place for them in the garden somewhere but just haven't done it yet.
    Great post and very informative.

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  9. I see this from time to time after watering the gardens. They usually congregate on the wet mulch and it's almost always a bunch of Cabbage Whites.

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I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.



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