The butterflies are possibly drawn to the tears of the tortoises because the liquid drops contain salt, specifically sodium, an essential mineral that is scanty in the western Amazon, said Phil Torres, a scientist who does much of his work at the Peruvian Tambopata Research Center and is affiliated with Rice University. Here Is Why Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears.
Such Julia butterflies, which are found in the western Amazon, don’t just take a trip on top of turtles. Actually, they are consuming the tears, a shocking action known as lachryphagy.
Tortoise tears are not the only source of these salts for butterflies; the insects do quickly get the salt from animal faeces, filthy banks of the river, puddles, wet clothes and people sweating. A graduate entomology student at the Museum of Natural History of Florida who has observed butterflies flocking to tears of tortoises in the rainforest of western Amazonia.
One question that arises: Does the butterfly feed aid, harm or don’t affect the turtles? Torres said it’s not completely obvious, but the teary initiative is likely to have little effect on the tortoises, other than possibly making them more susceptible to predators like big cats, as the butterflies might block their sight.
Even Torres saw bees consuming tears of turtles. Bees appear to irritate the turtles more than the butterflies, possibly because of their buzzing wings.
The region’s lack of salt has caused many species to show unusual behaviours. Macaws, for instance, visit clay licks to, well, lick clay that contains sodium and other minerals. For the same reason, even some forms of monkeys eat dirt.
This area is high in sodium than other areas on Earth, because it is more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) from the Atlantic Ocean, a prime source of salt, and is cut off by the Andes Mountains from wind-blown mineral particles to the South. Through the West, even all the way through North Africa, rocks and minerals find their way into the Amazons. Yet most of the content must be stripped by rain from the air until it enters the western Amazon.
This is Why Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears
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