Leeches are still used in modern medicine to drain off excess blood after surgery.


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Tiger Beetle Tiger Beetle feeding
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Mouthparts

Bugs, between them, eat an enormous variety of food, including plants, fungi, detritus, faecal matter and other animals. Each bug has purpose-built mouthparts designed for its specific diet. It is this great diversity of mouthparts that has helped bugs to become the most successful animals on Earth.

Lapping and Chewing

The mouthparts of honeybees consist of a long tube and a hairy tongue for lapping up nectar and honey. They also use their tongues to pass liquid on to other bees. Honeybees also have chewing mandibles (a pair of jaws) that they use to eat pollen, dig nest burrows, manipulate beeswax and for defence.

Chewing

The mouthparts of insects such as cockroaches, beetles and crickets are like scissors and are used to cut and chew leaves, wood and the flesh of other insects. Beetles bite and chew their food. They also have palps for sensing food and jaws to grasp prey. Crickets have large, powerful, saw-like mandibles that they use to chew up leaves and, in the predatory species, other insects.

Siphoning

Butterflies and moths have a hollow tube, called a proboscis, which they use to suck up nectar. Being long, it can go deep into the nectar and the insect can suck it up as if through a straw. The proboscis is usually coiled underneath the moth or butterfly’s head; when the insect wants to feed, the proboscis is uncoiled and extended.

Piercing and sucking

Mosquitoes have piercing mouthparts that work like a syringe. The long proboscis of the females has a pointed tip which is used to pierce the skin of their prey. When it has cut through to the blood vessels, saliva is injected. This contains an anticoagulant to stop the blood from clotting and the wound from closing. Then the mosquito sucks up the blood.

Sponging

The mouthparts of flies are usually formed into a proboscis. They are only able to eat liquid foods, and their lower lip has evolved into a sponge-like structure for that purpose. When they find solid food, flies will vomit their saliva onto it to dissolve it. They then soak up the juices using their mouthparts.


Classification
Bees
Cockroaches
 Beetles  Crickets
 Moths & Butterflies  Flies/Mosquitoes
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Magnified view of the proboscis, link to large image Siphoning


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