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Mosquito Love

August 21, 2006

The facts of life are often discussed in terms of the birds and the bees. But what about the mosquitoes?


The mosquito’s mating call. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The mosquito’s whiny buzz may be the sweet sound of love—at least to a potential mate. Gabriella Gibson at the University of Kent in England says that when two mosquitos meet, they buzz a duet to find out if they are members of the opposite sex. Males are high-pitched and lower their buzz to match that of a female.

GABRIELLA GIBSON (University of Kent):
You can hear the sound of just the female on her own, and then you hear the male come in at a higher pitch to begin with, but very quickly they both start to change the pitch they’re flying at until gradually they come into more or less the same tone and almost harmonize but not quite.

On the other hand, same-sex pairings may find it difficult to match their pitches, causing them look elsewhere for a love connection. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.