An insect’s antennae are a pair of sensory organs that are positioned towards the front of the head capsule. The antennae are considerably more than touch sensors, despite their widespread moniker of “feelers.” They typically have olfactory receptors that detect odour molecules in the air (the sense of smell). Many insects utilise their antennae as humidity sensors, detecting changes in water vapour concentration. Mosquitoes use their antennae to hear noises, while many flies use theirs to judge air speed when flying.
Antennae can in a variety of shapes and functions, but they all have three basic parts:
- scape — the basal segment that articulates with the head capsule
- pedicel — the second antennal segment
- flagellum — all the remaining “segments” (individually called flagellomeres)
Types of insect antennae
1. Setaceous (Bristle-like): Size of the segments decreases from the base to apex e.g. cockroach.
2. Filiform (Thread-like): Segments are usually cylindrical in shape. Thickness of segments remains same throughout e.g. Grass hopper.
3. Moniliform (Beaded): Segments are either globular or spherical with prominent constrictions in between e.g. Termite, Ground beetle etc.
4. Serrate (Saw-like): Segments have short triangular projections on one side e.g. Mango stem borer.
5. Unipectinate (Comb-like): Segments with ling slender processes on one side e.g. Sawfly
6. Bipectinate (Double-comb-like): Segments with long slender lateral processes on both the sides e.g. Silkworm moth
7. Clavate (Clubbed): Antenna enlarges gradually towards the tip e.g. Butter fly.
8. Capitate (Knobbed): Terminal segments become enlarged suddenly e.g. Khapra beetle, weevils etc.
9. Lameliate (Plate-like): Antennal tip is extended laterally on one side to form flat plates e.g. Dung roller.
10. Aristate (Bristle like): Antenna is just three segmented. The terminal segment enlarges. It bears a conspicuous dorsal bristle called arista e.g. House fly
11. Stylate: Antenna is just three segmented. The terminal segment bears a style like process e.g. Jassid
12. Plumose (Feathery): Antenna is feathery with much long hair, in whorls at the junction of flagellomeres e.g. Male Culex mosquito. A mass of sense cells collectivity called Johnston’s organ (hearing organ) present in pedicel of male mosquito.
13. Pilose (Hairy): Antenna is less leathery with fewer hairs at the junction of flagellomerer e.g. female Culex mosquito.
14. Geniculate (Elbowed): The scape is long. The remaining segments are small and are arranged at an angle to the first, resembling an elbow joint e.g. Honey bee, wasp etc.
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