A furtive moth slurps up this sleeping bird’s tears

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Caught red-handed.
Caught red-handed.

Image: Leandro João Carneiro de Lima Moraes/ the National Institute of Amazonian Research/Youtube

Deep in the Amazon jungle, ecologist Leandro Moraes filmed a moth sucking the tears out of a sleeping antbird’s eye. 

The delicately-performed nighttime feeding is a rarely seen event, wrote Moraes in a report about the experience, entitled “Please, more tears: a case of a moth feeding on antbird tears in central Amazonia.”

The short clip depicts a moth carefully dipping its tubular mouth into the bird’s closed eye. For a brief moment, the antbird opens its eye, but doesn’t seem to notice the large insect perched on its back — nor the tube resting in its eyeball.

Consuming the tears of other animals is called lachryphagy, and has previously been witnessed in bees and butterflies consuming the tears of formidable predators: crocodiles. 

Stealthily sucking another animal’s tears is apparently a risk worth taking. In an intensely-competitive natural world, tears are a rich source of salts and nutrients. Sleep carefully.

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