Can butterflies hear?

Can butterflies hear? It has been long assumed that they can’t; in fact, many associations and charities for deaf and hearing impaired people use the butterfly as their symbol for this reason. Some, however, can hear!

Many Nymphalidae butterflies have ears and scientists have confirmed hearing in several species using neuroanatomical and neurophysiological methods. Ears are mostly sensitive to sound frequencies between 500 Hz and 6 kHz, overlapping the hearing range of humans.

The function of hearing in diurnal butterflies is not understood, and scientists hypothesise that hearing butterflies are listening to flight sounds, or possibly the foraging calls of predatory birds. The well -known Morpho species for example possess ears that respond to the sounds made by birds during flight.

Can butterflies hear
Morpho Butterfly


Can butterflies hear
The circle on this butterfly indicates the location of the ear


Can butterflies hear
An electron micrograph of the ear.

We found this information here.