Acute as a Bug’s Ear: An Informal Discussion of Hearing in Insects

  • Ronald R. Hoy
Part of the Springer Handbook of Auditory Research book series (SHAR, volume 10)


It is often said that humans are visual animals. Our ability to get around in this world may depend a lot on our eyes, but our ability to communicate with others and to make sense of the world requires our ears. This surmise applies not just to humans, but equally well to some members of another spectacularly successful class of animals, the Insecta. When suddenly startled, a person is described as having his or her eyes opened as “wide as saucers,” or as being “bug-eyed,” in reference to the conspicuous eyes of insects such as the familiar houseflies, bees, dragonflies, praying mantises, and even cockroaches. The heads of these insects seem to be nearly “all eyes,” and indeed, beneath their compound eyes up to two thirds of an insect’s brain volume may be devoted to its visual centers. Yet, as is documented in this book, many kinds of insects hear as well as see to an extent more than the average reader might have suspected, and the purposes to which hearing is put among insects are familiar.


Acoustic Startle Response Field Cricket Tiger Beetle Hearing Organ Green Lacewing 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

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  • Ronald R. Hoy

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