Butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) use specialized mouthparts (proboscis) that consist of two C-shaped galeae that join to act as a conduit for channeling and transporting fluids from pools and wetted surfaces to the gut. Most previous reports assume (via gross morphology) that the proboscis relies on the sucking pump to induce fluid rise, however, recent studies have provided evidence that the proboscis also incorporates capillarity and wettability dynamics for fluid rise. The purpose of this study was to determine if action of the sucking pump is necessary for fluid rise and subsequent feeding. Four treatments of Lepidoptera had proboscises split at different lengths and were submerged (distal region) in a pool of fluid (20% sucrose/ food coloring solution), followed by dissection of the gut to verify feeding. Our results indicated that butterflies with split proboscises retained the ability to feed; however, the amount of fluid decreased with increasing proboscis separation.
Ashley Lash, a senior student at Kent State Stark, is a biology/predentistry major. Her interests include reading, writing, and conducting scientific research which she has, recently, been awarded 8th place in the 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition. Upon graduating, Ashley plans to attend dentistry school and in the near future participate in Dentists without Borders.