Where are grasshopper’s ears located ribs

4.1.4. Sound production

The commonest method of sound production by insects is by stridulation, in which one specialized body part, the scraper, is rubbed against another, the file. The file is a series of teeth, ridges, or pegs, which vibrate through contact with a ridged or plectrum-like scraper. The file itself makes little noise, and so has to be amplified to generate airborne sound. The horn-shaped bur- row of the mole cricket is an excellent sound enhancer (Fig. 4.5). Other insects produce many modifications of the body, particularly of wings and internal air sacs of the tracheal system, to produce amplification and resonance.

Sound production by stridulation occurs in some species of many orders of insects, but the Orthoptera show most elaboration and diversity. All stridulating orthopterans enhance their sounds using the tegmina (the modified fore wings). The file of katydids and crickets is formed from a basal vein of one or both tegmina, and rasps against a scraper on the other wing. Grasshoppers and locusts (Acrididae) rasp a file on the fore femora against a similar scraper on the tegmen.

Many insects lack the body size, power, or sophistication to produce high-frequency airborne sounds, but they can produce and transmit low-frequency sound by vibration of the substrate (such as wood, soil, or a host plant), which is a denser medium. Substrate vibrations are also a by-product of airborne sound production as in acoustic signaling insects, such as some katyd >1–5000 Hz. Substrate vibrations can be detected by the female and appear to be used in closer range localization of the calling male, in contrast to the airborne signal used at greater distance.

A second means of sound production involves alternate muscular distortion and relaxation of a specialized area of elastic cuticle, the tymbal, to give individual clicks or variably modulated pulses of sound. Tymbal sound production is most audible to the human ear from cicadas, but many other hemipterans and some moths produce sounds from a tymbal. In the cicadas, only the males have these paired tymbals, which are located dorsolaterally, one on each side, on the first abdominal segment. The tymbal membrane is supported by a variable number of ribs. A strong tymbal muscle distorts the membrane and ribs to produce a sound; on relaxation, the elastic tymbal returns to rest. To produce sounds of high frequency, the tymbal muscle contracts asynchronously, with many contractions per nerve impulse (section 3.1.1). A group of chordonotal sensilla is present and a smaller tensor muscle controls the shape of the tymbal, thereby allowing alteration of the acoustic property. The noise of one or more clicks is emitted as the tymbal distorts, and further sounds may be produced during the elastic return on relaxation. The first abdominal segment contains air sacs — modified tracheae — tuned to resonate at or close to the natural frequency of tymbal vibration.

The calls of cicadas generally are in the range of 4–7 kHz, usually of high intensity, carrying as far as 1 km, even in thick forest. Sound is received by both sexes via tympanic membranes that lie ventral to the position of the male tymbal on the first abdominal segment. Cicada calls are species-specific — studies in New Zealand and North America show specificity of duration and cadence of introductory cueing phases inducing timed responses from a prospective mate. Interestingly however, song structures are very homoplasious, with similar songs found in distantly related taxa, but closely related taxa differing markedly in their song.

In other sound-producing hemipterans, both sexes may possess tymbals but because they lack abdominal air sacs, the sound is very damped compared with that of cicadas. The sounds produced by Nilaparvata lugens (the brown planthopper; Delphacidae), and probably other non-cicadan hemipterans, are transmitted by vibration of the substrate, and are specifically associated with mating.

Certain moths can hear the ultrasound produced by predatory bats, and moths themselves can produce sound using metepisternal tymbals. The high-frequency clicking sounds that arctiid moths produce can cause bats to veer away from attack, and may have the following (not mutually exclusive) roles:

  • interspecific communication between moths;
  • interference with bat sonar systems;
  • aural mimicry of a bat to delude the predator about the presence of a prey item;
  • warning of distastefulness (aposematism; see section 14.4).

The humming or buzzing sound characteristic of swarming mosquitoes, gnats, and midges is a flight tone produced by the frequency of wing beat. This tone, which can be virtually species-specific, differs between the sexes: the male produces a higher tone than the female. The tone also varies with age and ambient temperature for both sexes. Male insects that form nuptial (mating) swarms recognize the swarm site by species-specific environmental markers rather than audible cues (section 5.1); they are insensitive to the wing tone of males of their species. Neither can the male detect the wing tone of immature females — the Johnson’s organ in his antenna responds only to the wing tone of physiologically receptive females.


How Do Grasshoppers Hear?

grasshopper image by Ben Twist from Fotolia.com

Have you ever wondered if insects can hear? Many people believe that, because insects have no obvious ears, they must be deaf–but that’s not the case. In nature, a keen sense of hearing is a vital survival mechanism, and insect hearing is some of the most sophisticated in the animal kingdom. The grasshopper serves as an excellent example of the ways in which many insects are able to receive and process sound waves.

Myths and Misconceptions

There is a popular misconception that grasshoppers have ears on their legs. In fact, grasshoppers have no external ears, but instead hear by means of an organ called a tympanum. However, the tympanum is indeed located near the base of the grasshopper’s hind legs, which likely accounts for this belief. In order to better understand grasshopper hearing, an examination of their anatomy is beneficial.

Grasshopper Anatomy

The grasshopper is the common name for a member of the Orthoptera order, which also includes crickets and katydids. They average between 1 and 3 inches in length, but can grow as large as 5 inches. Their bodies are segmented into three parts: the head, thorax and abdomen. They have four short legs and two large, muscular legs for jumping. Adults also have two pairs of wings, and short antennae. The hearing organ, which is a large membrane called a tympanum, is located on either side of the first segment of the abdomen, near the base of the hind legs.

Insect Hearing

According to Friederike Gilbert and Norbert Elsner in the Journal of Experimental Biology, hearing in grasshoppers has evolved for the purpose of identifying predators, prey and potential mates. The tympanum is the most common means of hearing in insects, although others hear by echo location or the vibration of tiny hairs on the skin. Situated between the tympanum are air-filled tracheal sacs which act as an internal sound pathway.

Grasshopper Hearing

Like most animals, a grasshopper hears by receiving and processing sound waves. When the sound waves are received by the grasshopper, they act both on the external tympanum and the internal chambers. The interaction between these two pressures and the tympanal membrane results in the grasshopper’s ability to hear. This mechanism is so sophisticated, that a grasshopper’s ability to identify the direction of a sound source rivals that of a human.


Aside from locating and avoiding predators, acoustic communication in grasshoppers is mainly used for the attraction of mates. The male initiates a call, often a whirring or snapping noise, which is heard by the female. The male then listens for her response, and due to his sensitive hearing, is able to pinpoint her location with relative ease. Thus, a grasshopper’s ability to hear helps ensure the survival of the species.


Chapter 24: Loudest

John M. Petti
Department of Entomology & Nematology
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
April 15, 1997

The African cicada, Brevisana brevis (Homoptera: Cicadidae) produces a calling song with a mean sound pressure level of 106.7 decibels at a distance of 50cm. Two species of North American cicadas, Tibicen walkeri Metcalf and T. resh (Haldman), produce an alarm call with a mean sound pressure level of 105.9 dB(50cm). Brevisana brevis is likely the loudest insect species on record. Cicada songs are species-specific and play a vital role in communication, reproduction, and possibly defense.

In the context of this paper, “loudest insect” is defined as the insect species capable of producing the most intense sound between 20 Hz and 20 kHz, the range audible to normal human hearing. Loudness will be quantified by the sound pressure level (SPL) in decibels (dB) produced by a single insect measured at a distance of 50cm using a reference value of 20 N/m 2 . The greatest published sample mean SPL for a species will determine the champion. The biological significance of the sound production is discussed.

Initial candidates were provided through personal communications, an Internet search for the “loudest insect” using Yahoo!, and posting a request for help on the Entomo-L Listserv. CD-ROM versions of CAB Abstracts (1985-present) and AGRICOLA (1970-present) were searched to obtain other candidates and SPL measurements. Secondary literature was used to interpret and equalize the SPL values obtained. SPL values were standardized according to Peterson (1967).

The Entomo-L Bulletin Board was the most productive source of potential candidates providing numerous species from the orders Orthoptera and Homoptera. Suggested orthopteran species include a large field cricket from Malaysia (Brachytrupes achatinus), the bladder grasshopper (Bullacris membracoides), an acridid (Circotettix rabula), and the European mole cricket (Gryllotalpa vinae) registering 96 dB at a distance of 50cm (Bennet-Clark 1970), the highest recorded SPL for these contestants. Homopteran contenders include male cicadas of the family Cicadidae. The range of mean sound pressure levels for samples of calls from the 68 species considered is 69.1-106.7 dB (Sanborn & Phillips 1995; Villet 1987; Young 1990). A maximum SPL of 108.9 dB was measured in an alarm call produced by Tibicen walkeri Metcalf (Sanborn & Phillips 1995). Mean and maximum SPL levels for finalists are presented in Table 1.

Sound pressure levels for loudest insect species finalists.

Species Song Mean SPL * Max. SPL Reference
Brevisana brevis call 106.7(10) 107.5 Villet 1987
Pyena semiclara call 106.2(11) 108.0 Villet 1987
Diceroprocta apache (Davis) call 106.2(8) 107.9 Sanborn & Phillips 1995
Tibicen walkeri Metcalf alarm 105.9(8) 108.9 Sanborn & Phillips 1995
Tibicen resh (Haldman) alarm 105.9(9) 107.2 Sanborn & Phillips 1995
Cyclochila australasiae ** call 105.7(8) 107.8 Young 1990

* dB re 20 N/m 2 measured at 50cm (sample size).
** Adjusted to 50cm from 20cm.

Most male cicadas produce an alarm call and calling song that vary in SPL. I award the loudest insect record to the species Brevisana brevis (Homoptera: Cicadidae) for a mean calling song SPL of 106.7 dB (Villet 1987). Tibicen walkeri Metcalf and T. resh (Haldman) deserve honorable mention for sharing the highest mean alarm call SPL of 105.9 dB (Sanborn and Phillips 1995).


Sound is produced by cicadas when muscles buckle the tymbals, rib-strengthened chitinous membranes located on the dorsolateral surfaces of the first abdominal segment (Sanborn & Phillips 1995). The sound pulse is modified by several body components and radiated through the tympana (Young 1990; Young & Bennet-Clark 1995).

Sanborn and Phillips (1995) found that sound pressure levels for both calling songs and alarm calls of 59 species of North American cicadas correlate directly with insect body mass (R 2 = 0.325 and 0.451, respectively). The dry weight of Brevisana brevis is approximately 0.3 g. Tacua speciosa and Pomponia imperatoria, southeast Asian cicadas, have dry weights of about 1.5 and 2.0 g, respectively. Anecdotal accounts of the songs of P. imperatoria suggest they are deafening. It is likely that B. brevis holds the record only because of a lack of investigation in southeast Asia (M.H. Villet, personal communication).

Most male cicadas attract mates with their calling song (Sanborn & Phillips 1995) giving larger males a competitive advantage in sexual selection. The calling song also stimulates aggregation of conspecific males (Simmons et al. 1971); and when males are in close proximity, it may repel, resulting in a minimum distance between individuals (Doolan 1981).

Smith and Langley (1978) examined the immediate and short-term effects of the male desert cicada Diceroprocta apache (Davis) alarm song on prey handling ability of an aggressive generalist predator, the southern grasshopper mouse Onychomys torridus (Coues). While the irritating call was not sufficient to deter attacks, increased handling time reduced predatory efficiency and enhanced the probability of the insect’s escape.

The noise produced by cicadas could be interpreted as an advertisement for predators. At close range, the painfully intense sounds can also have a repellant effect on bird predators. Simmons et al. (1971) theorize the coexistence of different frequencies of songs produced during the simultaneous emergence of acoustically isolated sympatric cicadas may jam the hearing of predators better than one species by itself.


I thank Drs. T.J. Walker (University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology), M.H. Villet (Rhodes University, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Grahamstown, RSA), H.C. Bennet-Clark, G. Tschuch, K. Reide, M. Gogala, D.R. Raichel, J. Coelho, D.D. Yager, R. Mankin, Mr. L.R. Davis Jr., C.R. Bomar, and T. Forrest for their kind assistance.

References Cited

  • Bennet-Clark, H.C. 1970. The mechanism and efficiency of sound production in mole crickets. J. Exp. Biol. 52: 619-652.
  • Doolan, J.M. 1981. Male spacing and the influence of female courtship behavior in the bladder cicada, Cystosoma saundersii Westwood. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 9: 269-276.
  • Peterson, A.P.G. & E.E. Gross, Jr. 1967. Handbook of noise measurement, 6th ed. General Radio Co., West Concord, Mass.
  • Sanborn, A.F. & P.K. Phillips. 1995. Scaling of sound pressure level and body size in cicadas (Homoptera: Cicadidae; Tibicinidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 88: 479-484.
  • Simmons, J.A., E.G. Wever, & J.M. Pylka. 1971. Periodical cicada: Sound production and hearing. Science 171: 212-213.
  • Smith, R.L. & W.M. Langley. 1978. Cicada stress sound: An assay of its effectiveness as a predator defence mechanism. Southwestern Naturalist 23: 187-196.
  • Villet, M. 1987. Sound pressure levels of some African cicadas (Homoptera: Cicadoidea). J. Entomol. Soc. South Afr. 50: 269-273.
  • Young, D. 1990. Do cicadas radiate sound through their ear-drums? J. Exp. Biol. 151: 41-56.
  • Young, D. & H.C. Bennet-Clark. 1995. The role of the tymbal in cicada sound production. J. Exp. Biol. 198: 1001-1009.

© Copyright 1997 John M. Petti. This chapter may be freely reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes. For more information on copyright, see Copyright & Permitted Uses.


Where are grasshoppers ears located?

the grasshoppers ears are located next to their eyes

Is a grasshoppers ears located on its head?

Where are a grasshoppers ears located?

They are located on the abdomen under the wings.

Where are grasshoppers ears?

Short horned grasshoppers have ears in the sides of the abdomen. Long-horned grasshoppers & crickets have ears in the knee-joints of their front legs.

Where do grasshoppers have their ears?

Short horned grasshoppers have ears in the sides of the abdomen. Long-horned grasshoppers and crickets have ears in the knee-joints of their front legs.

How many ears does a grasshopper have?

Grasshoppers do not have ears to hear with. They have a hearing organ known as tympanum, which is located on both sides of the first abdomen.

On what part of the body are the ears of long-horned grasshoppers and crickets located?

in the front legs

Do grasshoppers have ears?

Where are a grasshoppers ears?

The ears on a grasshopper are also called the tympanic membrane.

What additional body part is found on the grasshopper and where is it located?

Grasshoppers have ears in their legs. This may not be an additional body part, but one that may not be located in the head, as in most animals.

What is so interesting about Grasshoppers?

They have ears on their legs.

Where are the biggest grasshoppers located?

the largest grasshoppers located are in Africa because of the precipitation

How can grasshoppers hear stuff even though they haven’t got ears?

Grasshppers have ears in the sides of their abdomen

How can grasshoppers hear stuff if they haven’t got ears?

Actually they have got ears! They are on the knees. Weird, huh?

Do Grasshoppers have a good sense of hearing?

yes, they have ears on the knees

Why do grasshoppers and crickets have ears on their front legs?

Because they can. Why does it matter to you?(:

Name of insect having ears on its back leg?

Some grasshoppers make sounds with their back legs but they do not have ears there.

Can locus bugs and grasshoppers harm your dog?

if they crawl in the dog’s ears

How do grass hoppers hear?

Some grasshoppers have ears in the sides of the abdomen, others have have ears in the knee-joints of their front legs.

Which is the insect having ears at its hind limb?

Long-horned grasshoppers and crickets have “ears” on their legs. Short-horned grashoppers (the kind seen just about everywhere) are often said to have ears on their legs, but their hearing organ is actually located on the abdomen just behind the rear legs where the legs join the body.

Why do grasshoppers have ears on their legs?

so they can hear things behind them before eaten


How do Cicadas Make Sound?

In this series, we’ll be addressing some common questions from visitors and readers. Do you have a science question that has you stumped? Ask our museum scientists via our form here and we’ll answer it on our blog!

Today’s Question:

How do cicadas make sound?

…and how are they so loud? Cicadas are the song of summer across the United States, Chicago included. Even just two miles from downtown the droning of cicadas in trees can be downright overwhelming in July and August afternoons. But cicadas are so small: how do they make such a powerful sound? With no vocal chords, no lungs, and no subwoofer it ought to be impossible to hear a cicada from a mile away and yet, it’s not. The loudest cicadas can emit a sound at over 100 decibels [1] , which can be heard over a mile and a half away. [2]

If you suspect that cicadas make sound the same way that the cricket, that other noisy summer insect, does then you’d get points for effort, but no points for being correct. Crickets make sound by rubbing their wings together (not its legs!), and cicadas have a special organ called a tymbal that produces sound. The tymbal contains a series of ribs that buckle one after the other when the cicada flexes its muscles. Every time a rib buckles, the rib produces a click. [3] Many clicks produce a buzzing sound. The action is like how a bendy straw makes sound: pulling and pushing the ribs of the bendy straw together makes a series of clicks. If you could push, pull, and twist a bendy straw hundreds of times a second the sound of the clicks would be so close together that you’d only hear a buzzing sound: this is how fast the cicada is able to vibrate its tymbal.

Chicagoans can hear several different species of cicada in the summer: the dog-day cicada, the Linne’s cicada and the scissor-grinder cicada are all common. [4] In fact, the author heard all three of these cicada calls through his window while writing this post. Click on the links above to hear the sound for each cicada and to learn more about each of these species.

Scissor-grinder cicada resting on a Chicago sidewalk. Photo by author.

And yes, some online sources will tell you that it’s possible for a cicada to damage your hearing. This is technically true and at the same time, there’s no reason to worry. The very loudest cicada, at 108 decibels [1] , would permanently damage your hearing if you held it up to your ear for two minutes straight. [5] Chicago cicadas are not even close to being that loud. Even if we estimate them at 90 decibels, as loud as a motorcycle from 25 feet away, it would take 8 hours of continuous play time for it to damage your hearing. Cicadas are completely, absolutely harmless. Just loud. Very loud.

Kyle Schiber
Nature Museum Volunteer

[1] Fleming, Nic. “The Loudest Insect in the World”. (2014, October 3). Retrieved August 8, 2017, from http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20140929-the-loudest-insect-in-the-world

[3] Young, D., and Bennet-Clark, H. C. “The Role of the Tymbal in Cicada Sound Production”. (1994, December 19). Retrieved August 7, 2017 from http://jeb.biologists.org/content/jexbio/198/4/1001.full.pdf

[4] The Song of Insects. 2017. Retrieved August 13, 2017 from http://songsofinsects.com/cicadas

[5] IAC Acoustics. “Comparative Examples of Noise Levels”. 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017, from http://www.industrialnoisecontrol.com/comparative-noise-examples.htm

Do you have a science question that has you stumped? Ask our museum scientists via our form here and we’ll answer it on our blog!


Cricket (insect) facts for k >Kids Encyclopedia Facts

A cricket
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Suborder: Ensifera
Superfamily: Grylloidea
Family: Gryllidae
Bolívar, 1878

Crickets, family Gryllidae (also known as “true crickets”), are insects somewhat related to grasshoppers and more closely related to katydids or bush crickets (family Tettigoniidae). They have somewhat flattened bodies and long antennae. There are about 900 species of crickets. They tend to be nocturnal and are often confused with grasshoppers because they have a similar body structure including jumping hind legs.

Crickets, like all other insects, are cold-blooded. They take on the temperature of their surroundings.

Cricket chirping

Crickets are known for their chirp (which only male crickets can do; male wings have ridges or “teeth” that act like a “comb and file” instrument). The left forewing has a thick rib (a modified vein) which bears 50 to 300 “teeth”. The chirp is made by raising their left forewing to a 45 degree angle and rubbing it against the upper hind edge of the right forewing, which has a thick scraper. This sound producing action is called “stridulation” and the song is species-specific.

There are two types of cricket songs: a calling song and a courting song. The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and is fairly loud. The courting song is used when a female cricket is near, and is a very quiet song.

To hear the mating call of other crickets, a cricket has ears located on its knees, just below the joint of the front legs.

Crickets chirp at different rates depending on their species and the temperature of their environment. Most species chirp at higher rates the higher the temperature is.

Jurassic chirp reconstructed

Night-time in the Jurassic included the sound of chirping bush crickets. This is according to scientists who have reconstructed the song of a cricket that chirped 165 million years ago. “A remarkably complete fossil of the prehistoric insect enabled the team to see the structures in its wings that rubbed together to make the sound”.

Diet and life cycle

Crickets are omnivores feeding on organic materials, as well as decaying plant material, fungi, and some seedling plants.

Crickets have relatively powerful jaws, and have been known to bite humans, mostly without breaking the skin. The bite can, however, be painful when inflicted on sensitive skin such as the webbing between fingers.

Crickets mate in late summer and lay their eggs in the fall. The eggs hatch in the spring and have been estimated to number as high as 2,000 per fertile female. Subspecies Acheta Domestica however lays eggs almost continually, with the females capable of laying at least twice a month. Female crickets have a long needlelike egg-laying organ called an ovipositor.

Crickets are popular as a live food source for frogs, lizards, salamanders, and spiders.

Popular culture

Crickets are popular pets and are considered good luck in Asia, especially China where they are kept in cages. It is also common to have them as caged pets in some European countries.

Cricket fighting as a gambling or sports betting pastime also occurs, particularly in Asia.

In American comedy, the sound of crickets may be used to humorously indicate a dead silence when a response or activity is expected. For example, if a comedian in a TV show tells a bad joke, instead of the audience laughing, crickets may chirp.

Images for kids

African field cricket Gryllus bimaculatus


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