Attraction: Like Butterflies on Scat

Posted on by Kathie Fife

When we think of butterflies, we envision them on beautiful flowers in our gardens, or on wildflowers in meadows bursting with a rainbow of color.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly on geranium flower.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly in my garden on a geranium flower.

We think of butterflies as pure, clean, delicate, feminine-like critters.

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly on scat

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly on coyote scat.

But, butterflies are also attracted to minerals in scat, much as they are attracted to the nectar in flowers.

The male butterflies, especially, are attracted to the salts in the moisture. They accumulate them and when they mate with females they deposit a spermatophore encased with salt packets. The female can use the packets for nourishment without having to risk her life, and her eggs, visiting salt puddles, or scat,where predators are likely to prey.

An Eastern Swallowtail butterfly attracted to coyote scat.

An Eastern Swallowtail butterfly attracted to coyote scat.

When I’m out on my adventures looking for interesting flora and fauna, sometimes I will see a large congregation of butterflies on shallow pools of water, called puddling. Sometimes the group is all the same species, sometimes it is a mix. This tells me there is something very interesting going on!

Viceroy Butterfly

Viceroy Butterfly

The type of scat lets me know what species of wildlife are in the area. The photos here show butterflies on coyote scat.  The scat is most likely from the past winter, because it is dry, and all that is left is deer hair and bones. We see young shoots of grass around the scat, so we can estimate the scat was deposited around six months ago in the snow. The species of butterflies let me know which species of plants are in the area.

Butterfly larvae on Spirea

Butterfly larvae on Spirea sp. Possibly fritillary sp.

How? Because the butterflies are attracted to, and rely on, specific host plants to lay their eggs for the larvae to feed on.

As always, please be mindful and respectful to property and wildlife.

All content including images are copyright Kathie Fife Photography.  Please contact us for permission for use before downloading and or copying.  Thank you.

 

 

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