Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears for Their Salt Fix

In the video above, you can see bees engaging in the same behavior!

In order to get their dose of sodium, butterflies in the Amazon rainforest turn to crying turtles. Scientist Phil Torres points out that while turtles get plenty of salt from their carnivorous diet, butterflies (and most herbivores) have a harder time finding the important mineral, especially in the west Amazon rainforest where there is very little salt at all. Their solution lies, in part, in the damp edges of turtle eyes. Torres wants to study the behavior more to find out if there are other minerals in the moisture that the insects are after.

“Potentially, they could be getting other resources out of those eyeballs that we don’t even know about,” Torres told Live Science. “Basically, we have to go start swabbing turtle eyeballs and see what we get.”

howvin/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

According to Live Science, “Turtle tears are not the only source of such salts for butterflies; the insects also readily get the salt from animal urine, muddy river banks, puddles, sweaty clothes and sweating people, said Geoff Gallice, a graduate student of entomology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, who has witnessed butterflies flocking to turtle tears in the western Amazon rain forest.”


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By Jaymi Heimbuch, from Treehugger


Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla7 months ago

Nature is so wise!

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Donna Ferguson
Donna F.3 years ago

amazing! ty

Tanja Zilker
Tanja Zilker3 years ago


Pamela W.
Pamela W.3 years ago

He(?) sure doesn't seem happy about it ........ mind you, I don't think I would be (in his place) either LOL. Fascinating though - thanks for the article and video !!!

John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Did one turtle just get the other involved in the torture?

Aurea Walker

What a beautiful photo of the turtle and the butterflies. In the video the the turtle seems a bit annoyed at the bee. Wonder though if it could be a mutually symbiotic relationship? Have studies been done on the turtles to see what benefits they (the turtles) derive from having their tears removed?

Dani C.
Dani C.3 years ago


Cynthia B.
cynthia AWAY b.3 years ago

thx interesting The turtle is not happy with this one sided relationship, necessary tho it may be

Joshua Brown
Joshua Brown3 years ago