I'm making a as scientifically possible depiction of a fantasy species and was hoping for some advice, do you know of any insects that can taste the air? And if so what is theoretically possible for them to smell? Perhaps different colours? I'm just very curious so if nothing comes to mind that's alright (ps, where might be a good place to look this type of stuff up?) from ombre-art
Hi, it depends what you mean by tasting - human taste is limited to sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Most flavour is smell and insects have an extremely good sense of smell. They use their antennae and can detect smells from great distances and can follow those smells to the source. Insects can taste particularly with their feet (for example bees) but they have to touch things to taste them.
Insects do have a number of interesting sense organs - they can have ears on almost every part of their body - “Legs, mesothorax, metathorax, abdomen (various segments), wings, mouth parts are all home for ears in some group” (1)
Some can detect infra red radiation (2)
They can use Polarised light as a compass (3)
And they can see UV light and some insects have specialised parts of their eyes devoted to detecting potential mates (4)
The best modern book on insect anatomy is probably: The Insects: Structure and Function by R. F. CHAPMAN but there are several excellent old books available online:
1) Structure, Development, and Evolution of Insect Auditory Systems DAVID D. YAGER* MICROSCOPY RESEARCH AND TECHNIQUE 47:380–400 (1999) (pdf)
2) The photomechanic infrared receptor for the detection of forest fires in the beetle Melanophila acuminata (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) H Schmitz, H BleckmannJ Comp Physiol A (1998) 182: 647±657 (pdf)
3) Neural mechanisms in insect navigation: polarization compass and odometer Thomas Labhart and Eric P Meyer Current Opinion in Neurobiology 2002, 12:707–714 (pdf)
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