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Clean Antennae Necessary for Sensory Perception

8-9-13 conehead katydid cleaning antenna 098Insect antennae are among the most sensitive and selective chemical-sensing organs in the animal kingdom. They detect information crucial to an insect’s survival, including odors, sounds, humidity, changes in water vapor concentration and air speed. Antennae are capable of these feats because of the sensory receptors covering them which bind to free-floating molecules. Experiments with cockroaches, ants and flies confirm that insects engage in antennal grooming — removing foreign materials from the surface of their antennae with their mandibles — primarily to maintain acute olfactory reception. Pheromones, chemical signals that are vital to insect communication, are used to convey alarm, attract a mate, mark territory and lay out trails, among other things, and clean antennae enhance these messages. (Photo is of a Sword-bearing Conehead Katydid cleaning its antenna.)

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6 responses




    August 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm

  2. Susan Holland

    Another great photograph!!!!! I am continually amazed at what you see (and I miss) !

    August 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm

  3. oh, I love this photo! clean antennae … kinda like clearing out the earwax – or maybe brushing the tongue.

    August 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm

  4. Al Stoops, Nelson NH

    I love sword-bearing coneheads—one of the loudest insects of the summer. Drove from out from Keene NH late in the evening with my windows open, and was hearing them almost constantly. I also love the name of this insect…. (I’ve seen them called simply “Sword-bearing coneheads”, but they are a type of katydid).

    August 10, 2013 at 4:33 am

  5. I have been paying more attention to the insects in my wildlife garden …now I will look even closer…Michelle

    August 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm

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