Insect mouth parts fall into different categories
depending on the insect type. Each has a certain tool for
dealing with certain prey. Houseflies utilize spongy pads
that secrete saliva over their food, dissolving the food source
which can later be sucked up through their straw-like mouth.
Other insects like mosquitoes have a needle-like mouthpart
useful for breaking through skin and sucking blood (only female
mosquitoes suck blood, male mosquitoes suck plant juices). Still
other insects, like ants, have powerful jaws that grip and
cut food sources. Some can slice through human skin (Fire
Structure of Insect Mouth Parts (In
general, as each insect differs)
These are hard jaws meant for gripping and biting, most often
found on insects like ants.
Secondary jaws, usually past the primary jaws for further
destruction of the prey.
The upper lip of the mouth, commonly found in insects such
as caterpillars and butterflies.
The lower lip of the mouth, again, commonly found in caterpillars
Ants utilize mandibles, maxillae, labium and
labrum. The mandibles are closed by powerful jaw muscles that
break the food down into smaller pieces. Behind the mandibles,
the maxillae is there to 'taste' the food (showing the propensity
of ants to enjoy items like sugar, and judge whether the food
source is something they find appealing or not). Finally,
the labium and the labrum chew the food and the food then
goes into the mouth of the insect for final eating and digestion.
Butterflies on the other hand utilize what is
called a proboscis. This whip like organ serves as
it's tongue and can suck nectar out of flowers. It is also
a very sensitive organ and communicates a lot of information
back to the butterfly.