Human beings are no strangers to alcohol, but you may be surprised to learn that other organisms consume alcohol as well. It would probably not surprise you to learn that some mammals seem to enjoy the intoxicating effects of alcohol. But what about insects? Insects may seem too small in size to become drunk off of alcohol, but you would be wrong. Just about any insect can become intoxicated if you expose it to alcohol. However, there is at least one type of insect that actively seeks out fermented fruit that causes intoxication. Of course, I am referring to butterflies. This may not surprise you since butterflies cannot seem to fly in a straight line, but a butterfly’s erratic flying style has nothing to do with alcohol intoxication. Not all butterfly species will seek out alcohol, but the butterflies known as red admirals sure will. In fact, there is such a thing as “butterfly bars”. These so called “bars” are located within butterfly farms. These butterfly farms have been established in many different parts of the world.
Red admiral butterflies are fond of ripe fruit. The red admiral butterflies must gorge themselves on sugar in order to prevent starvation during their winter-long hibernation period. Not all butterflies hibernate, and only red admiral adults can hibernate. Some butterflies survive the winter as caterpillars or eggs. The rising temperatures associated with climate change are allowing some butterflies to survive winters in environments where they normally wouldn’t survive. Red admirals will begin to consume sugars from fermenting fruit during the month of October. This is why butterflies may seem more numerous in the fall. The sugar in the fruit is converted into ethanol, which makes the butterflies flat-out drunk. Sometimes butterflies will become so drunk from consuming fermented fruit that people can pick them up.
One such butterfly farm has been established on the United States Virgin Islands. This butterfly farm is a major tourist attraction. The farm is located in the town of St. Thomas, and tourists can visit and watch numerous butterflies feeding from several dishes containing fermented fruit. These dishes are all organized in rows and employees working at the farm tell the tourists that the butterflies love the fermented fruit and the resulting intoxication it causes. Maybe the global butterfly population isn’t really declining. They might all be heading toward St. Thomas. You will never see happier butterflies anywhere else. So if you ever want to witness a bunch of butterflies getting drunk, then the St. Thomas butterfly farm is where you need to go.
Do you think that the alcohol produces an enjoyable mood for the butterflies?
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