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:

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.
How mosquitoes smell human sweat (and new ways to stop them)
Female mosquitoes are known to rely on an array of sensory information to find people to bite, picking up on carbon dioxide, body odor, heat, moisture, and visual cues.
Forecasting mosquitoes' global spread
New prediction models factoring in climate, urbanization and human travel and migration offer insight into the recent spread of two key disease-spreading mosquitoes -- Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.
Medicating mosquitoes to fight malaria
Mosquitoes that landed on surfaces coated with the anti-malarial compound atovaquone were completely blocked from developing Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, according to new research led by Harvard T.H.
Mosquitoes can hear from longer distances than previously thought
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.
Urbanization changes shape of mosquitoes' wings
Research shows that rapid urbanization in São Paulo City, Brazil, is influencing wing morphology in the mosquitoes that transmit dengue and malaria.
More Mosquitoes News and Mosquitoes Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.