How Do Butterflies Taste Things?


Quick Answer

Butterflies taste with their feet. Tiny, hair-like sensors detect chemical changes in plants that may be harmful, either as food for butterfly caterpillars or nectar for adults. A female determines the safety of an egg-laying site by stamping her feet on the foliage to release any defensive chemicals.

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How Do Butterflies Taste Things?
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Full Answer

In addition to tasting with their feet, butterflies have two additional ways to experience touch and smell: a proboscis and antennae. A proboscis is a long, curled tongue that is similar to a coiled garden hose when not in use, but when feeding on sap and nectar, it resembles a straw. Butterfly antennae assist in locating appropriate food sources by touching them for a chemical reaction of warning and for smelling the fragrance, which also alerts them to potential dangers.

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