During prolonged nutrient restriction, developing animals redistribute vital nutrients to favor brain growth at the expense of other organs. In Drosophila, such brain sparing relies on a glia-derived growth factor to sustain proliferation of neural stem cells. However, whether other aspects of neural development are also spared under nutrient restriction is unknown. Here we show that dynamically growing somatosensory neurons in the Drosophila peripheral nervous system exhibit organ sparing at the level of arbor growth: Under nutrient stress, sensory dendrites preferentially grow as compared to neighboring non-neural tissues, resulting in dendrite overgrowth. These neurons express lower levels of the stress sensor FoxO than neighboring epidermal cells, and hence exhibit no marked induction of autophagy and a milder suppression of Tor signaling under nutrient stress. Preferential dendrite growth allows for heightened animal responses to sensory stimuli, indicative of a potential survival advantage under environmental challenges.