Butterflies and Bees Observed Drinking Crocodile Tears

Posted on May 2, 2014

Butterfly and bee observed drinking crocodile tears

Researchers have observed a butterfly species (Dryas iulia) and a bee species (Centris sp.) drinking tears from a spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) on Costa Rica's Puerto Viejo River. A boat carrying students, photographers, and aquatic ecologist Carlos de la Rosa was passing slowing by. De la Rosa caught the moment on film. The crocodile does not try to shoo the insects away. Take a look:

De la Rosa, director of the La Selva Biological Station for the Organization for Tropical Field Studies in San Pedro, Costa Rica, says, "It was one of those natural history moments that you long to see up close. But then the question becomes, what's going on in here? Why are these insects tapping into this resource?"

De la Rosa searched Google images and found a lot of people have recorded butterflies and bees drinking tears. He says, "I did a Google search for images and I found out that it is quite common! A lot of people have recorded butterflies, and some bees, doing this."

Bees have been reported drinking human tears in Thailand in a BioOne paper.

De la Rosa reported the encounter here in the May 2014 issue of the Ecological Society of America's journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The article is called "Additional observations of lachryphagous butterflies and bees."

Photo: Carlos de la Rosa

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