Can Butterflies Get Drunk?

There are many interesting and astounding facts about butterflies that are not commonly known. We often hear people saying that these insects can get drunk. People use different methods to attract these fascinating insects to observe their behavior, and using beer and alcoholic substances is one of them.

Can Butterflies Get Drunk? Butterflies can get drunk after consuming fermented fruits, such as over-ripped bananas, plums, grapes, other fruits, and fermented tree sap or nectar. The sugar in fruits and tree sap converts into ethanol or alcohol due to the yeast and bacteria and affects the functioning of their nervous system. They can become disoriented and face flight problems, predation risks, low activity level and reproduction, and disruption in feeding behavior.

Research shows they are attracted to beer, and entomologists often use alcoholic baits and fermented fruits to draw and capture them. They get different benefits from feeding on these products, such as males will increase the spermatophores drinking beer and alcoholic substances if they get a chance and attract their female fellows.

Moreover, the sexually rejected butterflies also feed on these liquid materials, as they have a lower level of neuropeptide F in their brain than the paired-off males.

How do butterflies get drunk?

They get drunk feeding on fermented fruits, such as over-ripped bananas, grapes, plums, and decomposed matter.

The fermented fruits have a high concentration of bacteria and yeast, and the chemical reaction of microorganisms causes the sugar substances in the over-ripped fruits to convert into ethanol or alcohol.

The male butterflies actively seek these fermented fruits around their habitat because of the sexual benefits they get after feeding on these substances.

The high ethanol concentration affects their brain functioning, and they become intoxicated with the alcoholic substances.

Once, I asked my colleague about how butterflies get high or drunk and what factors are responsible for their intoxicated situations because he studied detailed feeding and behavioral changes of these attractive flying insects.

He said they appear drunk after feeding on the fermented tree sap and nectar because the high temperature and heat in the warmer season cause the nectar to bubble and change the sugar into alcohol.

He said that some of these are observed to feed on the fermented fruits and tree sap or nectar for many hours without moving or flapping their wings.

It shows they are drunk and cannot maintain consciousness for some time. He said that he observed a butterfly feeding on the fermented plum, and it did not notice the disturbance around it when he approached and picked it with the fruit.

A research study showed that the receptors in their antennas and feet become less responsive when they consume fermented food.

The fruit-feeding butterflies have a long and piercing proboscis, and they insert it in the fermented fruits and flower nectar to suck it and enjoy the feeding.

Different farms are established where these beautiful insects are collected to feed on various fermented fruit dishes, and tourists can observe them being intoxicated on these fruit items.

What happens if a butterfly gets drunk?

It is common to see butterflies drunk and observe their activities because they seek fermented fruits and tree sap and get nutritional value. However, high ethanol or alcoholic consumption can cause the following problems for these insects.

Flight Problems

They can get drunk and often face flight problems because they cannot maintain balance and consciousness to fly.

Therefore, you often observe the species take erratic fights or zig-zag patterns after they feed on the fermented fruits.

However, the erratic and abrupt flight patterns don’t need to be associated with drunken situations because they can make such motions to escape predators and attract mates.

Once, I observed the flight pattern of a butterfly in my garden after feeding it with the fermented bananas.

I was surprised to see that it did not fly for some time, and when it took flight, it started moving in a zig-zag pattern.


They can get disoriented, as they cannot find their way home if they get a high content of fermented fruit juice because the ethanol content is also high in these substances.

They usually avoid taking flights because it is difficult to control the body movements, as the ethanol will affect the nerves and nervous system activation.

Therefore, they do not take straight flights when drunk, and the impaired coordination is a sign that they are intoxicated and need some time to recover.

Predation risks

They become more prone to predation when they consume fermented fruit and tree sap. They also become less active to the sensory cues around their feeding and living sites, which risk their life if predators notice them.

They become so indulged in feeding the fermented fruits and alcoholic substances that they do not notice the threats around them.

Once, I asked my friend about butterflies and the potential effects of being drunk, as they are fragile and sensitive creatures and prone to predation easily if they lose balance.

He studied many aspects of their behavior, as he raised many species and often went to tropical forests to learn new facts about them.

He told me that he saw a butterfly feeding on the fermented tree sap, and the overindulgence caused the hawk to target this innocent insect.

The predator approached the butterfly, grasped it from its wings, and ate it in a few seconds. However, the ethanol from the fermented fruit has more powerful effects.

Therefore, overfeeding on alcoholic food items can cost them lives, as they become intoxicated and do not respond to the stimuli around them.

Low activity and reproduction

Butterflies become less active and slow down their activities when they are drunk.

They do not take high flights and seek mates if they are highly intoxicated because the brain does not work properly as it does in normal situations.

Therefore, the high fermented food consumption and more ethanol content affect their reproduction, and they cannot fly to distant places to find mates.

However, the slight intoxication does not cause many problems, and they can fly in slightly erratic paths and find mates to reproduce.

Moreover, beer consumption and other alcoholic substances can boost the male spermatophores, and they can attract the females after coming to their senses if they get highly intoxicated.

Disrupt feeding behavior

The fermented fruits and alcoholic liquid items can disrupt their feeding behavior, and they become addicted to such food sources.

The metabolic activities also get affected, and getting drunk can affect their ability to search for and drink the nectar from their host plants and other flowers.

Moreover, my cousin told me that sometimes they accidentally get drunk because people use fermented fruits as bait to catch them and feed on these food items without knowing that they will get intoxicated.

How long do butterflies stay drunk?

The effect of ethanol and alcohol depends on the type of species and the concentration or content of alcoholic substances they consume.

For example, I studied that they do not stay drunk for long because their metabolism is active enough to digest it and overcome the side effects soon.

However, some species are sensitive to high ethanol or alcohol consumption and take time to behave normally.

Sometimes, they feed for a short time on the fermented food products and take flights easily from this place, while sometimes, they spend hours on the fermented tree sap and fruits and become so intoxicated that they do not notice changes around them.

What type of butterflies are most likely to get drunk?

Not all butterflies are attracted to fermented fruits or drink ethanol from these food items.

However, Red Admiral butterflies actively search for ripe fruits and happily feed on them. Moreover, they drink sugary liquids to prevent starvation when hibernating in winter.

In addition, my childhood friend told me that the fruit-feeding butterflies in tropical forests, like Amazon forests, are more likely to get drunk after feeding on the fermented fruits because they often find the ripped fruits around their habitat.

He said the Red Flasher, Blue Morpho, and Owl butterflies are also observed to get attracted to fermented fruits.

He told me his story of exploring the Amazon forest this year and using the fermented ripped fruits as bait for these insects.

He said the Tiger Swallowtail butterfly was the first flying insect species to get trapped in this bait and became drunk, as it could not fly smoothly.

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