Tears are sort of like sports drinks, in that they contain various vitamins and minerals in a liquid solution. (They also contain mucus, antibiotics and oils, which is probably why entrepreneurs arenâ€™t bottling human tears for sale.)
But, for tear-drinking species like butterflies and bees, tears are refreshing goodness. Aquatic ecologist Carlos de la Rosa and his team watched and photographed bees and butterflies drinking crocodile tears. A paper on the discovery is published in the latest issue of Ecology and the Environment.
The croc, a spectacled caiman, seemed not to mind. It was relaxing on the banks of the RÃo Puerto Viejo in northeastern Costa Rica when the drink fest happened.
â€œIt was one of those natural history moments that you long to see up close,â€ de la Rosa, director of the La Selva Biological Station for the Organization for Tropical Field Studies in San Pedro, Costa Rica, said in a press release. â€œBut then the question becomes, whatâ€™s going on in here? Why are these insects tapping into this resource?â€
Heâ€™d previously seen butterflies and moths in the Amazon feeding on the tears of turtles and other caimans. Other researchers have witnessed bees sipping tears.