Spend a moment in our Butterfly Rainforest with Ryan talking about how butterflies taste. Specifically, how they sense potential host plants and other things in their surroundings. Although they do have taste receptors in their proboscis and antennae, most of their sense of taste is centered elsewhere.

Here in the exhibit, butterflies often land on visitors and they can probably taste you!


Hello, welcome to the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History. My name is Ryan and today we’ll be talking a little bit about how butterflies taste. The answer is bitter surprisingly! No, butterflies have a sense of taste, just like we do, but it is spread out a little bit differently than with us.

We primarily have our taste sense on our tongues. Butterflies don’t have tongues, they have a proboscis which many people think of as a tongue but it’s more like having your mouth extended into a long tube. They do have some taste buds on their proboscis and some on their antennae as well, but most of the taste buds are focused on their feet. Imagine walking around all day and having to taste your shoes! There’d be a huge business for soles that had tastes to them, a flavor, flavored soles.

Butterflies will land on plants to taste them primarily to see whether or not that plant is the right plant to lay their eggs on. So it’s very very important that they have that focus there. That’s an interesting little detail a lot of people don’t realize about butterflies. It’s one of my most favorite things about them to tell people about.

When you get the chance come on down look at our butterflies and maybe they’ll come around and taste you. Hope you’ve enjoyed and have a great rest of the day. Thank you.

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Video by Ryan Fessenden; Produced by Radha Krueger