mouthparts plural noun - insect mouthparts are paired appendages (except for the labrum) used to acquire, manipulate, and chew food. The principal insect mouthparts are, starting from the topmost:
- a sclerite
(horny plate of the body) that serves as the "upper lip". Sometimes the labrum is not considered to be a true mouthpart.
- analogous to the vertebrate jaw, these are used to cut and chew food, as well as for other purposes
- used in a manner similar to mandibles, but more complex in function, usually have attached maxillary palpi
, used for sensing and manipulating food. In some groups, the maxillae are modified into a proboscis
- a fused pair of appendages, analogous to the lower lip, often has attached labial palpi
. In some groups may be modified into a proboscis
. The tip of the labium is modified in some flies as a sop for liquids, the labellum
Note that some names of arthropod mouthparts were originally terms for an analogous
(but not homologous
) vertebrate structure.