September 26, 2018
The ears of male mosquitoes amplify the sound of an approaching female using a self-generated phantom tone that mimics the female’s wingbeats, which increases the ear’s acoustic input by a factor of up to 45,000, finds a new UCL-led study.
The researchers were studying disease-carrying mosquitoes, and hope their findings, published in Nature Communications, could help design acoustic lures to control the spread of deadly diseases.
“Hearing is a crucial sense for mosquitoes as acoustic communication plays a key role in their mating behavior. Understanding how mosquitoes communicate in swarms to find mates is important in the development of vector control strategies,” said the study’s lead, Dr Joerg Albert (UCL Ear Institute).
The researchers studied three mosquito species: the malaria-carrying Anopheles gambiae, the Zika virus and dengue carrying Aedes aegypti, and the West Nile virus carrying Culex quinquefasciatus.