Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!
Puddling [ PUHD-ling ] (noun): A behaviour occurring in animals, where they seek out nutrients in certain moist substances like rotting plant matter, mud, standing puddles, dung, and carrion and they suck up the fluids. From the fluids, they get salts and amino acids that play many different roles in their physiology, ethology, and ecology.
Although puddling occurs in other animals (mainly insects), this behaviour is most commonly associated with butterflies. Butterflies can gather their liquid nutrients from lots of different moist substances. Even sweat on human skin can be an attractive option! But their puddling behaviour will mostly take place on wet soil or in standing puddles.
A great High Park example of a butterfly that engages in this behaviour is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. This species of butterfly is large and showy, with vibrant colours. All males and some females have bright yellow wings with black stripes and black margins. Some females (called "dark-phase" females) are dark brown with yellow and blue markings on the margins only. This time of year, it is not uncommon for us to see Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (predominantly males) puddling in groups at a standing puddle or a section of wet soil.
On your next spring visit to High Park, keep an eye out for Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and puddling behaviour!