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Antennae

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The male luna moth has plumose (feathery) antennae to detect the scent of females.

The male luna moth has plumose (feathery) antennae to detect the scent of females.

Photo: © Debbie Hadley, WILD Jersey
Definition:

Antennae are movable sensory organs located on the head of most arthropods. All insects have a pair of antennae, but spiders have none. Antennae are segmented, and usually located above or between the eyes.

Antennae serve different sensory functions for different insects. In general, the antennae might be used to detect odors and tastes, wind speed and direction, heat and moisture, and even touch. In some insects, the antennae may even serve a non-sensory function, such as grasping prey.

Because antennae serve different functions, their forms vary greatly within the insect world. For example, antennae may be thin and thread-like, known as filiform antennae, or feathery and flamboyant, a form entomologists refer to as plumose. In all, there are about 15 different antennae shapes.

For more about how insects use their antennae, see also:

  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Insects
  4. Insects 101
  5. Entomology Glossary
  6. A
  7. What Are Antennae? - Definition and Examples

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