Moths hear using tympanal membranes, eardrum-like structures on the thorax. As sound waves hit these membranes, they vibrate, transmitting the energy to sensory cells in the ear.
The researchers discovered two different responses to the sounds. First, they found that some of the nerve cells were sensitive to various frequencies of sound—the low buzzes and high-pitched squeaks common to many insect calls. Second, they saw how the vibration from the membrane caused the nerve cells to fire an electrical pulse through the auditory nerve.
This second response is unique in that it does not occur in vertebrates, scientists report today in Science Advances. In mammals and birds, tympanal nerves are connected only to mechanosensory neurons that respond directly to vibrations. The new work suggests that moths are able to convert those vibrations into an electrical signal—a process known as mechanotransduction—that can be sent along their auditory nerves so the brain can decode it as a sound.
Do moths have ears?
Yes, moths have ears — but only some do. Just like other insects, the moth’s ear is a complex structure, one that picks up sound waves and sends them to the brain for processing.
The moth’s ear is not as complex as the human ear, and in many cases, it’s quite rudimentary. The moth’s ear has been studied because it might provide insight into hearing in general, and offer a model for studying human hearing disorders.
The ears of some moths are so basic that they can’t actually hear sounds. Instead, these ears pick up vibrations from the ground, helping the moth detect when a predator is nearby.
Other moth ears are more sophisticated. They’re located on the insect’s thorax and are made of two tympanal membranes that act as eardrums. Scientists have discovered that some moths can hear ultrasonic sounds well beyond what humans can detect.
Do moths hear humans?
Moths may hear humans, but they are not nearly as good at it. Humans can hear across a range of frequencies from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Moths can’t hear our voices because we don’t speak in frequencies that high. Our voices are between 100 Hz and 1 kHz.
However, there is some evidence that moths can sense vibrations at a low frequency. They have tiny hairs on their wings and body that can detect these vibrations.
Do moths hear the sound?
Yes, moths hear sound and can detect it using ears on their bodies that are not visible to the naked eye.
Moths have ears on their bodies that are not visible to the naked eye. Their hearing organs are located on their knees and they sense movements in the air that come from sound waves. This is a common method of hearing among insects, as they mostly dwell in forests with lots of tree leaves.
How far can moth hear?
Moths can hear up to 300,000 hertz (300kHz), the highest frequency of any insect. They hear using their antennae and the small hairs on their wings and body.
Female moths have ears that are more sensitive to sound than males because females stay stationary while males fly around looking for them. The males have hearing organs in the front of their abdomens and females have hearing organs in their thoraxes.
Moths produce ultrasonic sounds by making clicking noises with a structure called a tymbal. Moths use this structure to warn bats away from them since bats use echolocation to hunt at night.
Do moths react to noise?
Moths are very sensitive to high-pitched sounds. To avoid predators, they will flutter their wings when they hear a high-pitched sound, which can be anything from a bat squeak to an incoming moth-a-gram.
Moths generally do not react to noise unless there is something else nearby that could be harmful or threatening to them (like a predator). In those cases, moths will often fly away from danger and toward safety.
Therefore, moths can hear using a range of frequencies. Interestingly, however, the highest hearing frequency of all moths is within a lower range than humans can hear.