Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter


from the June 6, 2010 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

Malachite is an opaque, semi-precious, greenish stone often found in copper mines, consisting of about 57% copper. Often malachite is set in silver to make jewelry. That's not the malachite I'm talking about, though. The Malachite I'm thinking of is a pretty butterfly, SIPROETA STELENES, about the size of a Monarch Butterfly, and fairly closely related to that species. You can see a Malachite on my belt buckle above.

That individual, with its rear end nipped off, probably by a hungry bird, is on my belt buckle because when I took that picture I was working in the organic garden where usually my clothing gets drenched with sweat, and lots of butterflies love sweat. Sometimes as I work several sup on my back and legs, their tickling somehow a relief from the heat. A lot of sweat collects at the belt, on its way down.

Malachites are common here, as well they might be because often I've commented on the abundance here of prettily flowering herbs of the genus Ruellia (often called Wild Petunias in English), and Ruellias are the favored food of Malachite caterpillars.

from the August 13, 2017 Newsletter issued from Rancho Regensis north of Valladolid, Yucatán, MÉXICO

The other day a Malachite Butterfly landed on my hairy arm, extended his proboscis to my salty skin, and I took the picture shown below:

Malachite, SIPROETA STELENES, sopping dried sweat

My skin was salty because I'd been sweating, and the sweat had dried. Probably numerous other minerals and chemical compounds were there, too. Many butterflies are known to crave salt and minerals, for their nectar diets are relatively deficient in them.

One thing nicely shown in the picture is the wetness at the proboscis's base. That's not sweat, but rather it was squirted there from the proboscis's tip. The wetness causes the salt and mineral crystals on my skin to dissolve, so they can be taken up in solution through the proboscis.