Paradox of the proboscis: How butterflies feed.

Monday, April 6, 2015 - 4:10pm
Event Type: 

Dr. Peter H. Adler from Clemson University's Department of Entomology, Soils & Plant Sciences will be presenting this research as a part of the spring semester seminar series. The seminar will be located in E164 Lagomarcino Hall.

Abstract. The conventional drinking-straw model of the lepidopteran proboscis is incomplete. Our work shows that the proboscis actually represents a combination of a straw and a sponge, acquiring fluids by capillary uptake and suctioning. Lepidoptera routinely deal with conflicting demands, such as the need to acquire fluids, including sugary nectar, yet repel sticky residues. The solution is a proboscis that is both hydrophilic and hydrophobic. The tapered proboscis represents a paradox. Tapering enhances capillarity and the ability to reach into small spaces, but causes resistance to flow that ultimately requires greater suction pressure than the cibarial pump can produce. The problem is solved behaviorally. The proboscis has been an underappreciated generator of biodiversity, allowing Lepidoptera to exploit a wide diversity of food sources and exploit new adaptive zones.

The ENT seminar series is coordinated by Greg Courtney and Rick Hellmich. Please contact them with any questions about this event.