Monday, 27 May 2013

The Language of Love

Alec recently posted a blog post that put mosquitoes in a pretty negative light. However, while working on my latest presentation on mating systems of sexual animals, I came a cross a really interesting article about mosquitoes and mating that showed their more...romantic side.

In a study conducted in 2009, two Cornell scientists discovered the love song of the Aedes aegypti, the species of mosquitoes that transmits viruses that cause yellow fever and dengue fever. These scientists found that when mating, male and female mosquitoes will adjust the whine, or frequency, of their wings until it converges to a harmonic of the fundamental frequencies of each mosquitoes' whine. Wait, what does that even mean?

"A harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency, i.e. if the fundamental frequency is f, the harmonics have frequencies 2f, 3f, 4f, . . . etc." A female's fundamental frequency is usually at 400Hz, while a male's is at about 600Hz. When mating, male and female mosquitoes will raise their whines to about 1200 hertz. Talk about meeting each other halfway!

It is so interesting learning such quirky tidbits about some of the vilest and most hated creatures in our ecosystem. It makes one really appreciate those little critters.

Watch the video here: Mosquitoes Mating


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