Canadian Tiger Swallowtails attracted to putrefying flesh

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
Sun, Apr 26, 2009 at 6:32 PM
I found these butterflies resting around a severed moose leg in Northern Ontario.

Canadian Swallowtails and severed moose leg
Canadian Swallowtails and severed moose leg

Goodness Gracious Katrena …
Was a former American vice-presidential candidate in your area?    Male swallowtail butterflies are often attracted to mud puddles where they drink in the moisture which contains essential minerals like sodium.  This behavior is known as a puddle party or just puddling.  We have also heard that they are attracted to urine and fresh feces and perhaps to putrifying flesh, presumably for the same reason.  We located an image of Pipevine Swallowtails on horse dung online.  There are some awesome puddling photos on this website.  The encyclopedia of Arkansas history butterflies and moths page indicates:  “The males of many butterfly species gather at damp areas to imbibe mineral salts, known as “mud-puddling.” Males use these salts for their own bodily functions, but they pass them to the female in the spermatophore during copulation. These mineral salts seem to aid female egg production. Males and females may be observed imbibing mineral salts and amino acids from carnivore scat, horse urine, and rotting animal carcasses.”  You photo of Canadian Tiger Swallowtails, Papilio canadensis, with a severed moose leg will make quite the conversation piece on our site.  Thanks so much for sending us the image.

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