Pipevine Swallowtails “puddling”

Aaaaimg_7230 crop3

Pipevine Swallowtails sucking nutrients from the ground

In the North Carolina mountains last week, I saw Pipevine Swallowtails every day “puddling” for water and nutrients. These were on a gravel driveway, lingering for hours. Others were on the ground in a grassy area.  I’ve never seen this species before, and just about all of them were puddling. I don’t think I saw any on nectar flowers, although there were lots of flowers.

Aaaimg_1046 crp

Pipevine Swallowtails

The caterpillars of this species feed on the poisonous pipevine plant, so the Pipevine Swallowtails become poisonous too, which protects them from predators. Good strategy! Some of the other swallowtail species are mimics of the Pipevine Swallowtail, such as the Spicebush Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, and the dark morph of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Predators avoid the mimics too, so mimicry works well to improve the mimics’ chances of survival. I love the intricacies of relationships in nature!

The most famous butterfly example of mimicry is the toxic Monarch and its mimic, the Viceroy. But these butterfly examples are two different kinds of mimicry. The mimics of the Pipevine Swallowtail are “Batesian mimics,” defined as a mimicry where the model is toxic or dangerous but the mimic is not. Mullerian mimicry is a situation where both species are toxic to predators, and that’s the case with the Monarch and the Viceroy. Each species benefits from resemblance to the other.


Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on Pinterest
Posted in Wildlife

What’s this blog about?

These days, I blog mostly about nature and wildlife. Even the tiniest creatures make me happy! You'll also find here lots of posts about plant-based foods, health, and ecotourism. Ecotourism can support local people who make a living through sustainable use of wildlife, habitat, and natural resources.

Amazon Page

My Amazon page shows most of my books (click here)

Archive of Posts


Link to our other blog, Veggie Revolution

Our other blog, Veggie Revolution, focuses more on food than this one does, especially the environmental, health and humane aspects of our food choices. That blog was started in 2005 and continues today, while the blog you're reading now began in 2009. Some of the newer posts are on both blogs, but Veggie Rev has at least 260 more posts than this blog, including Sadie's travels to Morocco. In the sidebar of Veggie Rev, you'll see links to each year that can take you back to all the posts for a particular year.

Veggie Revolution blog