Antennal Segments

antennal segments

Antennae are made up of three basic segments:  the scape, pedicel and flagellum, which is in turn made up of multiple flagellomeres. Although the specific function of antennae may vary among species, they generally provide insects with a sense of "smell". Numerous olfactory receptors line the antennae and enable insects to detect odor molecules in the air. Thus insects can "smell" food and detect pheromones released by potential mates.

Many insects also use their antennae as humidity sensors, detecting changes in the concentration of water vapor in the air. Mosquitoes are able to detect sounds as well as odors with their antennae and some flies are able to gauge air speed while they are in flight. Ants and honey bees are able to communicate with nest mates by touching antennae, which allows them to pass on information about food sources and danger.