What is more annoying? Dubstep music or mosquitos? A new study has found that tracks produced by electronic music artist Skrillex can actually deter mosquitoes from both biting and mating.
Sound and vibration are essential to many animals to have successful reproduction rituals. Mosquitos are particularly affected by sound and vibration as wing-beat matching is an important part of the way females attract male attention.
Skrillex is very annoying
The new study, published in the Acta Tropical journal explored just how music might change mosquitos behavior. To conduct the study, the scientists created two environments; one 'music on' environment, where Skrillex's 'Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites' track was blasted and a 'music off' environment that was silent.
The researchers then launched a swarm of hungry female mosquitoes into each space where a restrained hamster was waiting in the name of science.
In the peaceful ‘music off’ environment, it only took the mosquitos 30 seconds before descending onto the helpless hamster. But in the cage with Skrillex on the speakers, the researchers observed that the mosquitos demonstrated “delayed response time and reduced visitation to [the hamster].”
Aggressive music confuses insects
They also noted that “blood feeding activity had low occurrence when music was played” and that “adults entertained with music copulated far less than their counterparts kept in the environment where there was no music entertainment.”
The researchers theorize that the songs noisy vibrations may have confused the mosquitos who need to synchronize their wing-beats in order to copulate.
Overall the electronic music listening mosquitoes had about five times less sex than their silent counterparts.
"Both males and females produce sounds through the beating of their wings," the authors of the paper noted.
"For successful mating to occur, the male must harmonise its flight tone with that of its partner using auditory sensitivity. Adults exposed to music copulated far less often than their counterparts kept in an environment where there was no music.”
Sound could become an insect repellent
This doesn’t just confirm that dubstep is really annoying; it could go some way to help minimize the spread of the deadly dengue virus. The mosquitos used in the experiment, Aedes aegypti mosquito, are the primary vector of the disease.
The scientist's findings could be used to create “new avenues for the development of music-based personal protective and control measures against mosquito-borne diseases.” It isn’t the first time music has been shown to throw insects off course.
Other studies have shown that leaf-eating insects suffer a reduced appetite when they can hear the pulses and chirps of an audio oscillator.
And beetles who were exposed to the AC/DC's rock classic "Back in Black" ate fewer aphids than their friends who went foraging in silence. What do you think? What music puts you on or off your food or courtship?