Since antiquity we have known that many insects produce sounds, but only during the past 150 years have scientists realized that some insects can hear. Detailed descriptions of ear anatomy, and the behaviors associated with hearing, began in the early 1800s, providing the basis for current developments in the field of insect bioacoustics. Over the past 40 years there have been significant advances in the field: many new ears have been discovered, and previous claims to tympanal hearing (based on morphological studies) have been validated. With the development of new instruments for detecting acoustic signals outside the realm of human perception (e.g., ultrasound, solid-substrate-borne vibrations), and for recording neurophysiological responses to sound, we are now beginning to better appreciate the immense diversity of insect sound receptor organs.

There is still much to learn about insect hearing. We know little, for example, about the chain of physical and bioelectrical events leading to sound reception at the level of the auditory cells or how acoustic sensory responses are integrated at the level of the central nervous system to promote adaptive behaviors. New tympanal ears will no doubt turn up in the years ahead, but perhaps most significantly, future explorations into substrate-vibrational and near-field sound communication are sure to yield exciting insights into how insects communicate acoustically.

See Also the Following Articles

Mating Behaviors • Mechanoreception • Orientation • Vibrational Communication

Further Reading

Bailey, W. J. (1991). "Acoustic Behavior of Insects." Chapman & Hall,

London/New York. Ewing, A. W. (1989). "Arthropod Bioacoustics." Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

Fullard, J. H., and Yack, J. E. (1993). The evolutionary biology of insect hearing. Trends Ecol. Evol. 8(7), 248-252. Hoy, R. R., and Robert, D. (1996). Tympanal hearing in insects. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 41, 433-450.

Hoy, R. R., Popper, A. N., and Fay, R. R. (eds.) (1998). "Comparative hearing: Insects. Springer Handbook of Auditory Research." SpringerVerlag, New York.

Michelsen, A. (1979). Insect ears as mechanical systems. Am. Sci. 67, 696—706.

Michelsen, A., and Larsen, O. N. (1985). Hearing and sound. In "Comprehensive Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology" (G. A. Kerkut and L. I. Gilbert, eds.). Pergamon, Oxford.

Robert, D., and Hoy, R. R. (1998). The evolutionary innovation of tympanal hearing in Diptera. In "Comparative Hearing: Insects" (R. R. Hoy, A. N. Popper, and R. R. Fay, eds.), Chap. 6. Springer-Verlag, New York.

Roeder, K. D. (1967). "Nerve Cells and Insect Behavior." Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Scoble, M. J. (1995). Hearing, sound and scent. In "The Lepidoptera. Form, Function and Diversity." Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Yack, J. E., and Fullard, J. H. (1993). What is an insect ear? Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 86(6), 677-682.

Yager, D. D. (1999). Structure, development, and evolution of insect auditory systems. Microsc. Res. Tech. 47, 380-400.

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