Hygrosensation is an essential sensory modality that is used to find sources of moisture. Hygroreception allows animals to avoid desiccation, an existential threat that is increasing with climate change. Humidity response, however, remains poorly understood. Here we find that humidity-detecting sensilla in the Drosophila antenna express and rely on a small protein, Obp59a. Mutants lacking this protein are defective in three hygrosensory behaviors, one operating over seconds, one over minutes, and one over hours. Remarkably, loss of Obp59a and humidity response leads to an increase in desiccation resistance. Obp59a is an exceptionally well-conserved, highly localized, and abundantly expressed member of a large family of secreted proteins. Antennal Obps have long been believed to transport hydrophobic odorants, and a role in hygroreception was unexpected. The results enhance our understanding of hygroreception, Obp function, and desiccation resistance, a process that is critical to insect survival.