Drinking Techniques of Bees, Butterflies and Hummingbirds

October 05, 2013

Drinking Techniques (2)

Photographer: Mary Brown
Summary Authors: Mary Brown; Jim Foster

It’s fascinating to see how different species have developed specialized approaches for eating and drinking. These pictures show the techniques used by a bumble bee, an American Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis) and a black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) for reaching nectar. Bees and butterflies employ a proboscis, a tapered tubular apparatus, to drink up nectar. The proboscis is used as a straw during feeding and is then tucked away when not in use. As a hummingbird feeds, its long bill opens slightly permitting its tongue to extend into the interior of a flower where it laps up nectar. Individual photos taken during August 2013.