Butterfly Feeding

butterfly feeding on carnation

Like honeybees, butterflies also have a proboscis which they use to feed on liquids such as nectar. The paired maxillae are modified to form the proboscis which, when not in use, is coiled under the head (see butterfly mouthpart morphology). The length of the proboscis is often proportional to the size of the butterfly and it also determines which flowers the butterfly is able to feed on.

Butterflies do not rely solely on nectar as a food source, they may feed on sap, rotting fruit, moist ground and may even visit animal urine in order to obtain essential nutrients.

Photo courtesy of Keith Power, Toowoomba, Qld.