Smelling Without A Nose

Common blue butterfly in Weymouth, Dorset, UK. © Verity Hill

Common blue butterfly in Weymouth, Dorset, UK. © Verity Hill

Thanks to Alex Morss for this second opportunity to feature her work:

How can butterflies and moths smell?

How can butterflies and moth find food-plants and mates by smell if they don’t have a nose? Ecologist Alex Morss explains how they can sense with other parts of their body.

Butterflies and moths lack a ‘nose’, yet they rely heavily on smell to find mates and food-plants, and in order to detect fungal diseases and parasites.

Each butterfly or moth has thousands of finely tuned smell and taste receptor scales, bristles and pits. These are located on its feet, on its palps (moustache- like mouthparts) and on its antennae. The insects can thus distinguish countless plant and insect chemicals that waft on the wind in a complex, ever-changing gaseous ‘soup’…

Read the whole (very brief) explanation here.

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