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Butterfly Taste Buds

Butterflies don’t really have mouths, much less taste buds, to help them decide if food tastes good or bad. Instead, they use their feet!

To eat, a butterfly unwinds a long, skinny part of its body called a proboscis, and sucks up liquids like nectars and juices. It works for nutrients, but the proboscis does not have sensors to determine taste. Instead, those sensors are located on the back of the butterfly’s legs. The insect will step on its food to sense dissolving sugars.  Even more importantly, a female butterfly will use her feet to drum on a plant and “taste” its juices. This helps her decide if the leaf would be edible to a caterpillar, and therefore, if she has found a suitable place to lay eggs.

 

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