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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Bees & Butterflies have similar behaviors. (Tuesday's Truths WK 134)

Welcome to my one hundred and thirty fourth segment of Tuesday's Truths which is inspired by my observing a bee and a Red Admiral Butterfly. I came upon both of these insects dining together atop an echinacea flower which grows near Shakespeare Gardens in Central Park (as seen in the image atop this entry).

I've often seen bees alighting on flowers and I've often seen butterflies engaging in this activity but up until this past Friday, I'd never seen them engaging in this behavior at the same time, which prompted me to do some research.

Here's part of what I learned. According to a webpage for Carolina Products, "Bees are the most prolific pollinators in nature. They spend the majority of their time searching for pollen and nectar as they are the main sources of food for themselves and their young. There are over 4,000 different species of native bees in the United States alone....

Honey bees were imported to North America by English settlers. Flowers that have evolved to attract bees as their main pollinators often are full of nectar and colored bright white, yellow, or blue. Bees cannot see the color red, which may be why flowers with red colors do not tend to attract bees. Many flowers even have regions that reflect ultraviolet (UV) light, invisible to the human eye but not to a bee’s, that guide the bee to the flower’s nectar and pollen...

Unlike bees, butterflies can see the color red, so many of the flowers they are attracted to are colored bright red, pink, or purple. Similar to bees, butterflies can see light in the UV spectrum and lots of the flowers that attract butterflies have areas that reflect UV light to guide the butterfly to the nectar. Butterflies are also lured to a flower by its fragrance. They use their feet to taste and need to land to feed. The flowers that often attract butterflies have larger landing pads near the source of nectar.

A butterfly drinks nectar through its proboscis, a long strawlike tube that is part of its mouth. The nectar of flowers visited by butterflies is often deeply hidden where only butterfly proboscises can reach. Because nectar is frequently butterflies’ only source of food, they tend to prefer nectar that is a mix of carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, and minerals. As butterflies feed, they may also pick up pollen on their legs, mouth, and wings. When they travel to another flower, there is a chance the pollen will be transferred and reproduction will take place..."

Bees and butterflies have visited my rooftop garden and are both the subject of different movies on my Vimeo Channel. Both of these insects are also included in volume one of my three volume book series, Words In Our Beak.


These insects are essential to our environment. Seeing them "break bread" together is a joyful experience. 

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