In the sensory garden, I want to discuss how Butterflies sense the world around them. We use our sense of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste to navigate our world. But do butterflies have ears or a nose and mouth? They don’t, but they still have a wide variety of sense.
Butterflies have eyes, but they are compound eyes and see differently than we do. While they cannot focus on an object and see details, they can see more colors than we can see. They see not just from red to violet but also ultra-violet. This ultra violet color helps them see where to find flowers since it is fluorescent!
Butterflies feel the world around them not just with their legs, but also with their proboscis which is the long tube that they use to stick down into flowers and suck nectar. Additionally, butterflies are covered with tiny hairs that are every sensitive to touch and can detect tiny vibrations, and the wind as things move around them.
Butterflies do not have ears, but they can sense sound vibration with their wings. This is particularly sensitive in moths because it allows them to hear bats at night. Another thing our ears do for us, is help us keep our balance. Butterflies have a special organ that helps them balance too. It is located at the base of their antenna.
Taste and smell are closely linked, as you will notice if you plug your own nose and taste something. When we are tasting or smelling things, we are sensing chemicals. Butterflies taste and smell with their feet, legs, and antenna. Butterflies are very sensitive to chemicals and rely greatly at sensing the chemical of plants and other insects to find the plant they need to lay eggs on. The butterfly’s antenna is a super sensitive organ and because it has two, it can pinpoint exactly where a plant is located. Once on a plant, the butterfly smells and tastes the plant with it’s feet as it walks around.
It is pretty amazing how differently butterflies sense the world, isn’t it?! Take some time to imagine you a a butterfly, tasting and smelling with your feet, touching things with your antenna and proboscis, and hearing with your wings!