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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.”

Related

7 Ways to Help Honey Bees
Turtle Herpes and the Rescue of Captain Hook
10 Little-Known Animal Facts

Read more: Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Videos, Videos

Main Image Credit: CC BY-ND 3.0 Lufonz

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Kara, selected from TreeHugger

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

105 comments

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12:37PM PDT on May 19, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

11:27AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

amazing! ty

7:46AM PDT on Sep 21, 2013

thanks

3:04PM PDT on Sep 19, 2013

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 !!!

2:02AM PDT on Sep 19, 2013

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

1:15PM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

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?

10:53AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

thanks..interesting

9:13AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

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

5:40AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

Interesting.

4:43AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

ty

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