So the male mosquito comes, humming an Elvis song, with a rose in his mouth… maybe I’m taking this a bit too far. You know that pesky mosquito sound ?? Scientists have known for years that that is the sound of love for the little buggers.
But what they didn’t know, and is quite fascinating in a way, is that males and females flap their wings in a certain way, to create a harmonic tune duet just before mating. According to renowned profesor of neurobiology and behavior Ron Hoy, they “interact acoustically with each other when the two are within earshot — a few centimeters of each other”.
“The frequency at which males and females converge is a harmonic or multiple of their wing-beat frequencies, which is approximately 400 hertz [vibrations per second] for the female and 600 hertz for the male,” adds Hoy.
If that’s not romance, I don’t know what is.
The frequency at which they “sing” when they’re mating is very high (1.200 hertz), about an octave higher than the standard A at which instruments are tuned. What’s a bit more interesting (especially if you have a bit of musical knowledge) is that they set their thoracic box to produce a frequency that converges to the frequency that is the female’s third harmonic, that’s three times her natural frequency; and despite whatever you may think, this is actually useful.
“By studying these flight tone signals, we may be able to determine what kind of information males and females consider important when choosing a mate,” said co-first author Lauren Cator, a Cornell graduate student who works with Harrington. “This will allow us to release ‘sexy’ transgenic or sterilized males that will be able to successfully compete with wild populations.”