skip to content

Acoustic Communication in Insects


Model systems for the neural basis of sound production and auditory processing


In about 18 groups of insects (e.g. cicada, crickets, grasshoppers, bush-crickets, beetles, moths, etc) species use acoustic signals for mate attraction, courtship and rivalry behaviour. In crickets and grasshoppers species-specific sound signals are generated by rhythmically moving either the front wings together or the hind legs against the wings. In this way a scraper is scratched against a file and sounds are generated. Sound is perceived by a variety of specialized ears,  which in different species may be located at different parts of the body. Due to their their conspicuous acoustic behaviour these insects are outstanding model organisms to explore the neural basis of sound production and auditory processing.

In crickets only the males sing to attract females; watch a male cricket singing and attracting a female: 


In grasshoppers males and females communicate by acoustic signals. These insects rub their hind legs against the wings using complex movement and motor patterns to generate species-specific songs. In two sequences, the video shows a male Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) singing next of a female. 

You can see the complete singing behaviour of this species in my video at:



  • Hedwig B and Stumpner A (2016) Central neural processing of sound signals in insects. In: Pollack GS, Mason AC, Popper A, Fay RF (eds), Springer Handbook of Auditory Research: Insect Hearing, Chapter 8, pp: 177-214, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-28890-1_8
  • Hedwig B (ed) Insect Hearing and Acoustic Communication. Springer
  • Hedwig B, (2001) Singing and hearing: neuronal mechanisms of acoustic communication in Orthopterans. Zoology, 103:140-149
  • Hedwig B (1997) Stridulationsverhalten der Feldheuschrecke Omocestus viridulus (L.). Mitt Dtsch Ges Allg Angew Ent, 11:911-914