Butterflies are beautiful creatures that capture the imagination with their fascinating wing patterns and bright colors. While it’s true that many butterfly species do suck out the minerals from plants and flowers, it’s possible that some butterflies also do the same with fungi too.
Butterflies do not eat Fungus. Fungus is a plant, and butterflies don’t eat plants at all because they don’t have mouths that can break down the cellulose found in plants.
Butterflies have a proboscis, which is a long tongue-like feeding tube. This proboscis is usually coiled up when not being used to feed on nectar. The butterfly uncoils its proboscis to feed on the liquid food source from flowers or fruit. Butterflies cannot chew on solid food like other animals do because their mouth has no teeth for chewing or tearing up their food into smaller pieces for swallowing.
What flowers do butterflies eat?
It’s common to think that butterflies only eat nectar, but flowers aren’t their only option for food. Butterflies may also feed on tree sap or rotting fruit and plants. Although it doesn’t happen often, some butterflies even have a taste for certain types of fungi. One type of butterfly in Central America is particularly fond of fungi – they snack on ant fungi.
These caterpillars depend heavily on ant colonies to survive; they spend much of their time within ant nests as if they were an extension of one giant organism with these insects.
Butterfly larvae may also eat pollen, which can be a great source of protein for their growing bodies. This is something many gardeners don’t know and why many people are concerned about planting milkweed in their garden; this plant is the host plant for monarch butterflies, and it can be toxic to other species, such as rabbits and deer might try to eat it. Larvae are safe from this toxicity because they munch on the leaves instead of the flowers.
Humans use these properties for our own benefit, too—the milkweed plant has been used in folk medicine as a treatment for asthma and respiratory problems, and several tribes used it to make a poison.
Do caterpillars feed on fungi?
Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and moths, who are voracious eaters. They feed on leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits of a variety of plants. According to Bradley Putzke-Floyd’s book Staying Safe With Nature — which examines how butterflies spend their time during specific parts of their life cycle – caterpillars rely on fungi as an alternative food source.
Putzke-Floyd explains that when caterpillars outgrow their leafy diets (in about one week), they must seek other sources for nutrients. Adult butterflies only eat nectar and are not dependent upon insects or other foods to survive.
Caterpillars require several nutrients in order to grow into adult butterflies, including calcium, sodium, and magnesium. They get these nutrients from fungi that live in rotting wood or decaying vegetation.
The fungi act as agents in a decomposing matter on forest floors and other habitats where butterflies and moths live. Caterpillars have “symbiotic relationships” with the fungi; the Fungus provides the necessary nutrients for the caterpillar, while the caterpillar helps the Fungus spread its spores by eating them and carrying it with them wherever they go. Both species benefit from this interdependence.
So butterflies are not fungi-eaters as such, but fungi do not harm them anyway. Butterflies tend to lay their eggs on plants that have fungi growing on them, but they don’t eat the fungi, but they may suck the nutrients out of it, and it is unclear what role, if any, the fungi plays in their reproduction.