Why Do Moths Want To Drink Our Tears?

Illustration for article titled Why Do Moths Want To Drink Our Tears?

We've written before about lepidoptera that drink the tears of animals, including humans. The general consensus on them was, "Please, god, no!" Perhaps it will help to know the probable reason for these insects' quest for delicious, delicious tears.


Your tears are complicated cocktails. They contain a variety of proteins, as well as some basic elements like potassium and sodium. It's probable that the many kinds of butterflies and moths that, let's face it, are feasting at your eyes while you sleep every night, are drawn to more than one component. But the behavior of the lepidoptera that blessedly leave people's eyes alone gives us a clue as to what the eye-suckers main goal might be.

Illustration for article titled Why Do Moths Want To Drink Our Tears?

Butterflies and moths often bathe themselves before they mate, but they don't do it because they're fastidious. The behavior is called "mud-puddling," because the insects invariably seek out dirty water. A lot of things are swimming around that water, and some of them are atoms of sodium, washed out of the surrounding dirt. The butterflies and moths who puddle are usually male, and they carry their sodium to their mate. Before they leave her, they will part with two-thirds of their bodily sodium, then the female transfers about half that sodium to her eggs.

If a moth has not had a chance to puddle itself up before mating, its mate will lose 80% of her own personal sodium when she lays her eggs. So when a moth drinks your tears, it will probably give them to its lady friend. When she becomes a mother, she will give that sodium to her darling children. And they will grow up to lick more tears from your eyes.

Perhaps that's not comforting.

[Via Your Atomic Self]

Top Image: amalavida.tv




Their proboscises are so tiny you probably wouldn't even feel little tiny moth licks. And you're just wasting that perfectly good salt anyway. Not like ticks and mosquitoes, which pierce your flesh and drink your blood that you need.