Butterflies Puddling on the Gunflint Trail

     Have you ever seen a group of yellow and black butterflies sitting on the ground and wondered what on earth they were doing? Member of the Voyageur Crew Mark recently did and found the answer to this question.

Yellow Swallowtail photo by Mark Ceminsky

butterfly puddling

In a few cases the swallowtails are hunting for protein but in most cases it’s salts and minerals dissolved in water that they crave. Since the plant material butterflies feed on contains very little salt, they must source it elsewhere; thus the puddling. Females do not often partake in puddling and they get most of their salt from the male during the mating.