Do Butterflies Clean Turtles Eyes?

Do Butterflies Clean Turtles Eyes

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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I was scrolling on the Reddit and noticed a picture of butterflies roaming around a turtle. When I read the comments, I learned they were washing the turtle’s eyes. But how do butterflies clean turtle’s eyes?

Though it’s quite weird, butterflies clean turtle eyes while drinking their tears. They get sodium from the turtle tears. This behaviour of drinking tears is called lachryphagy.  However, they need it for their psychological and reproductive purposes.

That’s not it! There are many things to know about this topic, and you can’t find all of them under one roof. Don’t worry! In this article, I’ll discuss the relationship between butterflies and turtles.

Key Highlights

  • Butterflies clean turtles’ eyes, and it’s common for the yellow butterflies in the Amazon rainforest.
  • The primary purpose of butterflies is to drink turtles tear as their sodium source.
  • However, the behavior of butterflies is known as lachryphagy or mud puddling.
  • In addition, butterflies drink the tear to absorb the moisture to enhance reproductivity.
  • This process won’t hurt turtles.
pair of butterflies

Do Butterflies Clean Turtles Eyes?

Butterflies clean turtle’s eyes by drinking their tears. Not all butterflies, the Julia and yellow sulphur butterflies drink turtle tears. Moreover, they intentionally can’t clean other animals’ eyes, but it can be caused due to commensalism.

According to some biologists, turtles are not concerned about the soft touch of butterflies on their eyes. But when the bees drink their tears, turtles can’t keep calm because it hurts them. Yet, butterflies don’t harm turtles in any way.

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Why Do Butterflies Drink The Tears Of Turtles?

The characteristic of butterflies drinking turtle’s tears is called lachryphagy. In other words, it is known as a mud-puddling attitude. It sounds bizarre, but many studies have found its common in the Amazon rainforest.

Nutritional SourceOne of the essential nutrition sources for butterflies is sodium. Turtle tears contain high sodium, which helps the butterflies balance their diet.
Salt-seeking attitudeButterflies have a salt-seeking habit because salt is vital for their psychological growth.
Enhancing moisture and saltThe salty mineral of turtle tears can be a primary source of moisture and salt for butterflies. It boosts their reproductive purposes. For this reason, they get attracted to drink their tears.

Why Do Turtles Cry?

Turtles don’t cry because they are sad. They can’t express their emotions the way humans can. Their kidneys are not able to secrete the extra salty liquid through urine. To release the excessive salt from their body, turtles excrete some fluid from the eyes that looks like tears.

It’s more like a psychological process than an expression of emotion. This method helps them clean the toxicity from their body and balance the moisture. Thus, sea and land turtles both discharge salty water through their tears.

Why Are Butterflies On A Turtle?

One of the most common scenarios of the Amazon rainforest is butterflies riding on a turtle. Some photographers captured the moments with close shots. Luckily, I’ve got one on Reddit and discussed this matter.

I was mesmerized by the photos of butterflies on turtles. However, butterflies ride on turtles eyes to clean their eyes while drinking the salty fluid. Only two or three butterflies surround one turtle at a time.

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What Is The Symbiotic Relationship Between Turtles And Butterflies?

Turtles and butterflies have a symbiotic relationship only because butterflies drink turtle tears as the sodium or salt source. It’s a feature of commensalism, where butterflies collect sodium from turtles without affecting and bothering them.

As turtles are carnivores, they eat foods with high sodium levels, attracting butterflies towards them. Other than that, they have no common things in their lifestyle or behavior. They belong to the different species genre.

closeup of turtle eye

Do Butterflies Hurt Turtles Eyes?

We all know the butterfly is one of Earth’s most harmless and beautiful creatures. They can’t hurt other animals. Turtles have a strong survival instinct that helps to protect themselves from any crisis.

If butterflies hurt their eyes, they won’t let them ride on them. But butterflies gently touch the turtle’s eyes and drink the fluid without hurting the turtle. Yet, turtles get used to their mud-puddling process over time.

Do Turtles Eat Butterflies?

Though turtles eat various insects, they don’t eat butterflies. However, they mostly prey on the source of protein and mineral sources. Butterflies lack these vitamin sources. Turtles love to eat crickets, worms, bugs and sea insects.

Additionally, they eat veggies, meat, small fish, commercial pellets and fish food. Eating butterflies won’t add any nutrition to their diet plan. If you are looking for a diet plan for your turtle, this guide might help you.

Before You Go

After reading the real-life experiences and scientific research, I found butterflies with clean turtle eyes. They aren’t doing it to help them but to absorb the sodium from their eyes. It’s a natural and common fact of wild butterflies and sea turtles.

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If you want to understand more about turtle’s lifestyles, the article below can help you out!

White Film Over Turtles Eyes [Treatment, Causes, Prevention]

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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