This amazing photograph shows two Julia Butterflies (Dryas iulia) in Ecuador quenching their thirst by drinking tears from the eyes of two turtles. Apparently, the turtles calmly allow the butterflies to get refreshment from their eyes ask they bask in the sun on a log.
The photograph was published by the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism with a Creative Commons license. It was awarded Picture of the Year in 2014 by the Wikimedia Commons. Here’s a full, large resolution version (click to elarge):
The phenomenon of “tear-feeding” is something known as “lachryphagy,” a kind of thirst for another animal’s tears. Insects, such as butterflies, bees and flies, have been observed to crawl into the eyes of other animals to sip on their tears. Creepy as this may sound, tears have ingredients useful for insects as they are rich in both water and proteins.
Thirsty insects don’t just wait around for an animal to start crying – only humans cry when they are upset. That said, many animals do make tears – lacrimal glands near their eyes constantly produce tears to help keep the eyes moist, washing away dust and anything potentially harmful.