By Kyle Chayka
May 1, 2014

“Crocodile tears” usually refers to fake sympathy—expressing sorrow when you’re actually experiencing schadenfreude. But actual crocodile tears can prove very useful for the insects that drink the liquid from the reptile’s faces.

It might sound gross, not to mention dangerous (landing on a croc’s face can’t be easy), but both bees and butterflies are known to drink the tears of the caiman crocodile in Costa Rica. In fact, the tears are like “sports drinks” for the insects.

That’s because the tears contain tons of salt and other minerals, rare nutrients in land environments. Insects take any source they can get—in Thailand, bees have even been known to drink human tears. (Yes, animals do cry.)

So next time you’re tearing up over a late-night movie, remember—that liquid could be going to a better purpose.

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