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Science Explains Why Butterflies Are Often Caught Drinking Reptile Tears

Wildlife photographers from around the globe continuously share stunning pictures of sights that are strange and amazing all at once. The heads of large, scary, and powerful crocodiles and little turtles are crowned with colorful butterflies that drink away their tears. These scenes look so sweet that they could be part of a new Disney cartoon, but in reality, they have a scientific explanation.

Here at Bright Side, we’ve looked at the science behind butterflies drinking reptile tears, and here’s what we’ve learned.

It turns out that butterflies drink animal tears for a very specific reason (and the reason is not to comfort these huge reptiles). Biologists know this phenomenon as lachryphagy, or “tear-feeding,” and it’s typical, not only for butterflies, but also for bees and other insects.

Insects drink the tears of reptiles and even mammals to get necessary minerals, mainly salt, or sodium. The main food of butterflies and bees is nectar, but nectar is sweet. Insects need salt and when they can’t find it in their usual sweet nectar, they search for alternatives.

Scientists believe that tear-feeding doesn’t hurt the animals involved. While this phenomenon has a very practical reason behind it, it still looks like a fairy tale. Photographers who manage to take these beautiful shots are truly lucky, and here are some more photographs of these wonderful scenes for you to enjoy.

Have you ever seen butterflies drinking the tears of crocodiles or turtles in real life? What is the most beautiful or unusual natural phenomenon you’ve ever seen? Do you have a picture of it to share with us in the comments?

Preview photo credit Shutterstock.com
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