Nav: Home

Mosquitoes can hear from longer distances than previously thought

February 07, 2019

BINGHAMTON, NY -- While most hearing experts would say an eardrum is required for long distance hearing, a new study from Binghamton University and Cornell University has found that Aedes aegypti mosquitos can use their antennae to detect sounds that are at least 10 meters away.

Mosquitoes have been known to use a variety of senses to detect the presence of potential mates and food sources. They can see, smell and most importantly hear what is around them.

However, it was previously believed that their hearing capabilities would be limited. While a vast number of animals hear by detecting tiny sound-induced air motion using fine hairs on their bodies, it has been generally believed that these types of creates can hear only sounds that originate at distances up to a few inches away.

Ron Miles, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering at Binghamton University, worked with professors Ron Hoy and Laura Harrington from Cornell University, who had found that mosquitoes' nerves were sensitive to sounds at long distances.

"We put the mosquitoes into my lab, which is an anechoic chamber," said Miles. "It's designed to absorb sound so that when you're conducting a study, there's no background noise or sound reflections interfering with your results."

With the mosquitoes in the anechoic chamber, the team was able to test their response to various sounds.

"We were able to observe the behavior of male mosquitoes to recorded sounds of either male or female mosquitoes," said Miles. "When the sounds from male mosquitoes were played, the males mostly just sat there. But, when we played the sounds of females, the males took off flying. We were also able to measure the neural response of their antennae and found they can hear sounds from surprisingly far away in the same frequencies that are important for human speech."

The study was not focused on whether that hearing capability was a driving factor in where mosquitoes find their human hosts, but it has been known that hearing is important for mosquitoes to find mates.

For Miles, this study is another step towards building more powerful, directional microphones. He has looked at the hearing of mosquitos previously for inspiration and has even found ways to incorporate spider silk to perfect microphones.
-end-
The study, "The Long and Short of Hearing in the Mosquito Aedes aegypti," was published in Current Biology.

Binghamton University

Related Mosquitoes Articles:

Mosquitoes are drawn to flowers as much as people -- and now scientists know why
Despite their reputation as blood-suckers, mosquitoes actually spent most of their time drinking nectar from flowers.
Mosquitoes engineered to repel dengue virus
An international team of scientists has synthetically engineered mosquitoes that halt the transmission of the dengue virus.
Engineered mosquitoes cannot be infected with or transmit any dengue virus
Genetically engineered mosquitoes are resistant to multiple types of dengue virus (DENV), according to a study published Jan.
Researchers identify that mosquitoes can sense toxins through their legs
Researchers at LSTM have identified a completely new mechanism by which mosquitoes that carry malaria are becoming resistant to insecticide.
Mated female mosquitoes are more likely to transmit malaria parasites
Female mosquitoes that have mated are more likely to transmit malaria parasites than virgin females, according to a study published Nov.
In Baltimore, lower income neighborhoods have bigger mosquitoes
Low-income urban neighborhoods not only have more mosquitoes, but they are larger-bodied, indicating that they could be more efficient at transmitting diseases.
Mosquitoes more likely to lay eggs in closely spaced habitats
Patches of standing water that are close together are more likely to be used by mosquitoes to lay eggs in than patches that are farther apart.
Why do mosquitoes choose us? Lindy McBride is on the case
Most of the 3,000+ mosquito species are opportunistic, but Princeton's Lindy McBride is most interested in the mosquitoes that scientists call 'disease vectors' -- carriers of diseases that plague humans -- some of which have evolved to bite humans almost exclusively.
Biting backfire: Some mosquitoes actually benefit from pesticide application
The common perception that pesticides reduce or eliminate target insect species may not always hold.
What makes mosquitoes avoid DEET? An answer in their legs
Many of us slather ourselves in DEET each summer in hopes of avoiding mosquito bites, and it generally works rather well.
More Mosquitoes News and Mosquitoes Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Space
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.