In humans and other vertebrates, hearing is improved by active contractile properties of hair cells. Comparable active auditory mechanics is now demonstrated in insects. In mosquitoes, Johnston's organ transduces sound-induced vibrations of the antennal flagellum. A non-muscular ‘motor’ activity enhances the sensitivity and tuning of the flagellar mechanical response in physiologically intact animals. This motor is capable of driving the flagellum autonomously, amplifying sound-induced vibrations at specific frequencies and intensities. Motor-related electrical activity of Johnston's organ strongly suggests that mosquito hearing is improved by mechanoreceptor motility.