Welcome to this week's "Fun Fact Friday". Today we are going to talk about something you didn't even know was really cool. Butterfly antennae. Yup. Let's get nerdy for a minute.
First, lets talk spelling. Antennae isn't just a fancy way of saying antenna - as I say "antennae" with my pinky out. It's the plural form. Similar to larvae being plural for larva. Antenna - just one. Antennae - more than one. But commonly two. Butterflies have two.
As you may guess, antennae function as sensory receptors for insects. Instead of a nose, butterflies use their antennae for smell. This is super important for migrating butterflies who rely on smell for sense of direction. Antennae are also used to detect light as a part of the butterfly's attempt at a Circadian rhythm, to smell the sweet sweet nectar to find nearby food, to help with balance, and to detect nearby motion.
Here is the Fun Fact:
While completely undetected by humans, pheromones are released by butterflies and then detected by the antennae of other butterflies. Pheromones communicate several things such as their species and their availability. Basically like a dating app. Male butterflies will emit special pheromones to try and seduce females. Like a pickup line filled with cologne. This begins the courtship. For monarchs, it will eventually lead to the exciting midair dance.
Bonus Fun Fact:
Butterflies have long, thin, and relatively straight "clubbed antennae" while moths will have thick, "feathery", and "comb-like" antennae.
That's it for this week's "Fun Fact Friday". Be sure to check us out on our social media pages and head on over to our online store if you are looking for butterfly host plants to attract more species to your garden.
Also check back again next week for "What is it Wednesday" where you can win a $10 prize just by participating in correctly identifying the picture in the post.