What Do Butterflies Eat

Explore the diet of butterflies and the various sources they rely on for their nutrition – from nectar to rotting fruits and even puddles.


Butterflies are fascinating creatures with delicate wings and vibrant colors. One of the most common questions people have about butterflies is what they eat. In this article, we will explore the diet of butterflies and the various sources they rely on for their nutrition.


One of the primary sources of food for butterflies is nectar. Nectar is a sweet liquid produced by flowers to attract pollinators like butterflies. Butterflies use their long tongues, called proboscis, to sip nectar from flowers. This sugary substance provides butterflies with energy and essential nutrients.

Rotting Fruits

While nectar is the main source of food for adult butterflies, some species also consume rotting fruits. These fruits provide butterflies with minerals and salts that are not present in nectar. Rotting fruits are especially favored by species like the Red Admiral and Mourning Cloak.


Another surprising source of food for butterflies is puddles. Butterflies engage in a behavior called puddling, where they gather around damp areas to drink moisture and extract minerals. Puddling is commonly observed in male butterflies, who require these minerals for successful mating.

Case Study: Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies are known for their epic migration journey from North America to Mexico. During this long flight, monarch butterflies rely on the nectar of various flowers for sustenance. One of their favorite plants is the milkweed, which provides them with the necessary energy to complete their journey.


  • There are over 20,000 species of butterflies worldwide.
  • Butterflies can taste food with their feet.
  • Some butterflies feed on animal droppings for additional nutrients.

Understanding what butterflies eat is essential for their conservation. By planting butterfly-friendly gardens with nectar-rich flowers, we can support these beautiful creatures and help maintain their populations.

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