Do Butterflies Pee?

Stephen Vickers
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When mammals pee, they are removing excess toxins from their bodies. To do this, the kidneys transform those toxins into a liquid sent to the bladder. So, do butterflies pee in the same way?

No, butterflies do not and cannot pee. A butterfly does not have any kidneys or a bladder that could produce urine. 

Without the organs to urinate, butterflies do not pee urine, but that’s not to say they cannot pass liquid. 

Butterflies can spray out the excess liquid that their body doesn’t require through a tiny hole underneath their abdomen. 

Most insects require some water to stop their bodies from dehydrating. A butterfly will get most of the water from its liquid diet of nectar. Whilst nectar gives them energy, it doesn’t give much in the way of nutrients. To get sodium and minerals, the butterfly has another trick.

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What is a Butterfly Doing When Puddling?

Butterflies have a little thing they like to do called ‘puddling’. Whilst we like to think of butterflies as being cute flying insects, some species will also puddle in animal poop or the mulch of rotting fruit. So, what are they doing? 

They’re drinking the salts and minerals they need from the liquid matter they’ve landed on.

For males, it helps them to create pheromones so they can attract mates.

Female butterflies also puddle, but not as much as males. They need minerals to help them in the production of their egg. The mother will pass on the nutrition to the unborn. On the whole though, if you see a butterfly puddling, it’s likely to be a male. 

You can even make little puddling places for them, and it’s much safer for them than landing on the ground. 

Fill a pot with sand, add a little soil to the top, and a little salt. Stir the top contents together. Make a dent in the middle to add water. The sand will take quite a lot of water so pour it into the pot until you have a nice puddle in the dent.

Hang the puddling pot in a high place, such as near a hanging basket, and watch the butterflies do a bit of puddling.

Do Butterflies Poop?

Adult butterflies do not produce poop as we understand it to be, as they do not have the organs to do so. They do have a digestive system to allow them to consume liquids.

This is where we return to the tiny hole in their abdomen, where they will spray out any excess.

However, when a butterfly is in the larva stage, it can eat up to 27,000 times its own body weight. All that food waste has to go somewhere, and it comes out as frass (insect faeces), which are tiny pellets.

Depending on the species, they deal with their frass in different ways. Some will make sure it falls to the ground so as not to attract predators who can smell it.

In turn, this enriches the soil because of its natural contents. Tent butterflies keep it in their woven homes, piling up the frass to one end like a toilet place. 

Equally, when the butterfly first emerges from its cocoon of the pupae stage, it will eject something that looks like blood.

This is not surprising as there is lots of excess waste left over from all the eating it did as a caterpillar.

It isn’t poop, or even blood. It is simply excess goo left over from what happens when it’s changing in its cocoon. Digestive enzymes make the caterpillar’s soft body into mush before it transforms into a butterfly.

It sounds pretty gross, but certain cells will remain and create the butterfly’s body. 

What is the Liquid that Butterflies Release?

We now know that a butterfly sprays excess liquid from a tiny hole in its abdomen. But if it does not pee or poop in any scientific sense. So what is it then? 

The correct name for the excess liquid that a butterfly releases, is known as abdominal dew, also called abdominal sap.

It tends to release this mostly when it’s practising puddling because that’s when it takes in too much liquid. When consuming nectar, it uses most of that liquid for energy so there is no excess.

But when a butterfly is sipping on puddling water, it only wants to keep the sodium and any other minerals that might be present. So, what it sprays out is mostly water content.

Because this is neither urine nor faeces content, we can safely say that a butterfly does not pee or poop. 

If you research this topic, you will find that some may say that a butterfly does poop and pee. Yet, scientifically, they are not excreting urine or food waste. 

FAQS

Do you have further questions about a butterfly and its toilet habits? Then check these FAQs out:

Do Butterflies Poop?

Like pee, butterflies do not have the ability to poop or produce a poop-like substance. Instead, they get rid of anything their body does not need through abdominal dew.

How Do Butterflies Urinate?

Well… They don’t! Butterflies cannot urinate. Instead, they have a small hole in the side of their abdomen to eject unwanted liquids from their bodies.


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