Snoutless

Here’s what an American Snout, Libytheana carinenta, looks like normally. This one was spotted in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, near some particularly veteran hackberry trees. They lay their eggs on hackberries.Here’s another Snout spotted at Transmitter Park along the East River recently.It’s missing its “snout.” Actually, this appendage is not really a snout at all. These are the animal’s labial palps, part of their mouthparts. All butterflies and moths have have labial palpi, which function as sense organs for food, but in this species they are extraordinary large. No other butterfly species in our area as anything like them. In this picture, of an intact specimen, you can see that there are two of them.

The usual explanation is that this is part of their leaf-like camo; combined with their antenna, they look like a leaf plus petiole. Look at the first picture again. Perched on stem, pointing up. Yeah, at a glance, you might think this was some part of the plant. (When I saw it, my [ha!] massive mammal brain said look again, that’s not right.)

So why is this individual snout-less? Certainly seems to be feeding fine. An iNaturalist commentator said they were sometimes seen like this.

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