Thursday, July 26, 2012

His Majesty's tongue!

His Majesty continues to show well at Fermyn Woods, although numbers are somewhat down on previous years. Having taken some very close up shots, does anyone know how the preboscis works, is it a push pull action, does he use fluid from himself to dissolve minerals, can anyone help ?


BB said...

From the bits I have read in Ken Willmotts book it seems that they exude a little moisture which dissolves the salts that they then suck up. Mark

irisscientist said...

Mark. The mouth parts of the Lepidoptera are highly specialised and are adapted for each individual species. A good review can be obtained at the link below, but unfortunately only the abstract from this publication is freely available online and the UL catalogue unfortunately only hold paper copies up to 2003:

A wonderful SEM image of his majesty's tongue can be found within the following publication, but again only the abstract is unfortunately freely available:

In summary, the tip region of HIS majesty's tongue has a high concentration of long Sensilla styloconia, which have neuronal connections and are known to be used as chemosensory receptors. The take home message being that it is in fact a highly adapted piece of equipment and is more than just a simple hollow feeding tube! Mark

Martin Izzard said...

Ta,nice info, what are the chemoreceptors tuned to ? water,salt, dog poo, very interesting, and they have a sensitivity in picogrammes. I guess this is why we are buzzed and sniffed when we are looking for HM and her Majesty. This appears to be a major part of the males breeding cycle, which must have been stated ?

It must be time for a new book on His Majesty now after all this time.

Martin Izzard said...

Who is going to write the book

Recent views on His Majesty ?

I can help, to collect up info, should anyone wish to contribute articles aka the old one Notes and views on the PE, a bible we read.

irisscientist said...


It's just another piece of the puzzle that I'm working pretty hard on solving. I have a pretty good idea what the receptors are 'tuned' to, but just need the hard data to prove it! Yes, as you state I am pretty sure it is all a "major part of the males breeding cycle."

As for old articles, already done (well most of them anyway). See my earlier post "His Majesty's Appearances?" (March 2012).

Wouldn't want a new book just yet though...some essential new data already obtained and more just over the horizon. Will certainly re-write the current text books regarding what is currently known about the Apaturinae and will also certainly silence the old school dinosaurs!