West Sussex, 8 May 2016
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
As with most insects, butterflies do the majority of their growing and eating during the larval stage. Nevertheless, the adults still require nutrition. This is predominantly obtained in the form of floral nectar, along with tree sap and other sugar-based foods for flight energy, with other micronutrients being required for egg maturation and successful reproduction. It is these that are gained from a number of apparently strange sources including urine, human sweat, rotting fruit, fermenting juices from timber, dead fish, animal carcasses, honeydew (sugar-rich excrement produced by aphids), dew covered embers from fires and animal faeces.