Ears on the Wings of Butterflies

Sometimes there will be little news items about scientific papers.  One that made some of the news blurbs lately was about a study that showed there were ears on the wings of some butterflies.  The paper that made the news studied inflated veins that are found on common wood nymphs, and found that it assisted the butterfly with hearing.

Another recent paper studied the blue morpho butterfly and its ability to hear.  Hearing in butterflies is accomplished with a tympanal membrane, which in certain groups of butterflies is called the Vogel’s organ.  Hearing in insects in general is through tympanal membranes located in various areas–on the legs, for example.

I thought I would look for the Vogel’s organ (the ear) in butterfly photos I have taken, and also the swollen vein that was mentioned in recent paper.  The Vogel’s organ is very small, and covered with scales and hairs.  I am not sure I have a clear photo of one.

This is a northern pearly eye.  The white dot at the end of the arrow might be the Vogel’s organ.  Hard to tell for sure.

Question mark butterfly and maybe the Vogel’s organ.

This is a little wood satyr.  To the left of the red line is the swollen vein that has a function in the hearing of the butterfly.

This is a common wood nymph, also showing the swollen vein to the right of the red line, and possibly the Vogel’s organ.

So I am not sure I have it.  Maybe I would need to have the butterflies in hand to know for sure.

About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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1 Response to Ears on the Wings of Butterflies

  1. blhphotoblog says:

    Very interesting post, not something I’ve heard about.

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