While observing our female Monarch whom my daughter has named Aurora, I noticed her proboscis is split into two ends like a snakes tongue. She was able to move these two ends separately. Our male however has just one long straw proboscis.
I was wondering if anyone knows if this is common, a known but rare genetic variation, or if we might have a mutation on our hands?
I have already hypothesized that a split proboscis would be very useful in drinking nectar from small tightly bunched flowers such as the ones on a butterfly bush as one could get to two flowers at once, increasing efficiency.
Of course it may also be that a straight proboscis is rare in Monarchs. All of my Painted Lady's probosces were straight so I'm going on the assumption that that is normal and may be wrong as we know features can vary from species to species.