Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Sexual differences in auditory sensitivity: mismatch of hearing threshold and call frequency in a tettigoniid (orthoptera, tettigoniidae: Zaprochilinae)

  • 104 Accesses

  • 25 Citations


Sexual dimorphism of the ear of an undescribed species of zaprochiline tettigoniid is described. The internal trachea, dedicated to hearing in other tettigoniids, is unmodified in the male but fully developed in the female. The external auditory spiracle is also lost in the male. In contrast, there is no difference between the sexes in the number of sensilla within the hearing organ. The male is 10 dB less sensitive than the female. The characteristic frequency of the hearing organ at 35 kHz does not match the carrier frequency of the male's call at 51 kHz. As a result of this mismatch the female is remarkably insensitive to the male's call (threshold at 75 dB SPL), and the male is even less sensitive (thresholds⩾80 dB SPL). In nature this provides a maximum hearing range of the male of less than 50 cm.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bailey WJ (1990) The ear of the bushcricket. In: Bailey WJ, Rentz DCF (eds) The Tettigoniidae: biology, systematics, evolution. Crawford House Press, Bathurst, pp 217–247

  2. Bailey WJ (1991) The acoustic behaviour of insects — an evolution-ary perspective. Chapman and Hall, London

  3. Bailey WJ, Simmons LW (1991) Male-male interactions and sexual dimorphism in the ear of a zaprochiline tettigoniid. J Insect Behav 4:51–64

  4. Cardone B, Fullard JH (1988) Auditory characteristics and sexual dimorphism in the gypsy moth. Physiol Entomol 13:9–14

  5. Gwynne DT, Bailey WJ (1988) Mating system, mate choice and ultrasonic calling in a zaprochiline katydid (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Behaviour 105:202–223

  6. Hardt M (1988) Zur Phonotaxis von Laubheuschrecken: eine vergleichende verhaltensphysiologische und neurophysiologisch/ neuroanatomische Untersuchung. PhD Thesis, Universität Bochum

  7. Hill KG, Oldfield BP (1981) Auditory function in Tettigoniidae (Orthoptera: Ensifera). J Comp Physiol 142:169–180

  8. Hoy RR (1989) Startle, categorial response, and attention in acoustic behaviour of insects. Annu Rev Neurosci 12:355–375

  9. Huber F, Kleindienst H-U, Moore TE, Schildberger K, Weber T (1990) Acoustic communication in periodical cicadas: neuronal responses to songs of sympatric species. In: Gribakin FG, Wiese K, Popov AV (eds) Sensory systems and communication in arthropods. Birkhäuser, Basel, pp 217–228

  10. Kalmring K, Rehbein H, Kühne R (1979) An auditory giant neuron in the ventral cord of Decticus verrucivorus (Tettigoniidae). J Comp Physiol 132:225–234

  11. Lewis DB (1974) The physiology of the tettigoniid ear. J Exp Biol 60:821–869

  12. Mason JB (1968) The tympanal organ of Acridomorpha (Orthoptera). Eos Madr 44:267–355

  13. Mason A (1991) Hearing in a primitive ensiferan: the auditory system of Cyphoderris monstrosa (Orthoptera: Haglidae). J Comp Physiol A 168:351–363

  14. Nocke H (1974) The tympanal trachea as an integral part of the ear in Acripeza reticulata Gukrin (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Z Naturforsch 29:652–654

  15. Otte D, Alexander RD (1983) The Australian crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). Acad Nat Sci Philadelphia, Monogr 22, p 477

  16. Popov AV, Sergeeva MV (1987) Sound signalling and hearing in the Baikal cicada, Cicadetta yezoensis, Homoptera, Cicadidae. Zool Zh 66:681–691 (in Russian)

  17. Rheinlaender J, Römer H (1980) Bilateral coding of sound direction in the CNS of the bushcricket Tettigonia viridissima (Orthoptera, Tettigoniidae). J Comp Physiol 140:101–111

  18. Römer H, Marquart V, Hardt M (1988) Organization of a sensory neuropile in the auditory pathway of two groups of Orthoptera. J Comp Neurol 275:201–215

  19. Römer H, Bailey WJ (1986) Insect hearing in the field. II. Male spacing behaviour and correlated acoustic cues in the bushcricket Mygalopsis marki. J Comp Physiol A 159:627–638

  20. Simmons LW, Bailey WJ (1990) Resource influenced mating sex roles of zaprochiline tettigoniids. Evolution 44:1853–1868

  21. Suga N, Katsuki Y (1961) Central mechanisms of hearing in insects. J Exp Biol 38:545–558

  22. Wilczynski W (1986) Sexual differences in neural tuning and their effect on active space. Brain Behav Evol 28:83–94

  23. Woodside DP, Taylor KJ (1985) Echolocation calls of fourteen bats from eastern New South Wales. Austr Mammal 8:279–297

  24. Yager DD (1990) Sexual dimorphism of auditory function and structure in praying mantises (Mantoidea; Dictyoptera). J Zool (Lond) 221:517–537

  25. Yager DD, May ML, Fenton MB (1990) Ultrasonic-triggered, flight-gated, evasive maneuvers in the praying mantis Parasphendale agrionia. I. Free flight. J Exp Biol 152:17–39

  26. Young D, Hill KG (1977) Structure and function of the auditory system of the cicada, Cystosoma saundersii. J Comp Physiol 117:23–45

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to W. J. Bailey.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bailey, W.J., Römer, H. Sexual differences in auditory sensitivity: mismatch of hearing threshold and call frequency in a tettigoniid (orthoptera, tettigoniidae: Zaprochilinae). J Comp Physiol A 169, 349–353 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00206999

Download citation

Key words

  • Tettigoniidae
  • Auditory sensitivity
  • Sexual dimorphism