Mosquitoes 'sing' to woo sex partner

Those tones are produced and varied based on the frequency of their wing beats in flight, finds a new study.

“Everyone must be familiar with the maddening whine a mosquito makes as it hones in for a bite,” said Gabriella Gibson of the University of Greenwich at Medway, Britain.
“Our findings suggest that mosquitoes rely on the sounds they make to attract a mate of the right species, a behaviour that is far more vulnerable to selection than avoiding the risk of being squashed by the rare host that is still awake at feeding time,” adds Gibson.
The Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes in fact, include a considerable amount of genetic diversity, representing a complex of seven species and several chromosomal forms.
And that diversity comes with real consequences for humans, explained Gibson and Ian Russell of Sussex University.

Gibson and Russell’s team first discovered that male and female mosquitoes harmonise with each other.
Gibson said this is analogous to two partially deaf singers — one alto and the other soprano — who can hear low frequencies, but perhaps not their own or each other’s songs.
Instead, they listen to the terrible dissonance if one or the other goes a bit sharp or flat, which they can get rid of by adjusting their respective tones until the dissonance diminishes to nothing.

The researchers have now shown that two mosquitoes don’t harmonise successfully if they are of the same sex or if they are not the same type of mosquito, said a Greenwich release. They might try for a while, Gibson explained, but they never find that harmony and eventually give up trying. These findings were published online in Current Biology on Thursday.

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