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  • Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Krystian Aparta

  • (Mosquito buzzing)

  • Greg Gage: We've all heard the annoying sound of a mosquito,

  • and we will stop at nothing to make it go away.

  • While this sound may be maddening to us,

  • perhaps it's music to a mosquito's ears.

  • The mosquito's nervous system has almost as many sensory auditory cells as we do.

  • But why would they have so many in such a small body,

  • and why would they need to be so sensitive to sounds?

  • The answer is love.

  • [DIY Neuroscience]

  • (Music)

  • As humans, we do a lot to attract each other.

  • Some things are conscious --

  • we put on makeup and make sure we smell nice.

  • And some are unconscious.

  • You may unconsciously point your body or even sit closer to someone you like.

  • These are courtship behaviors, and a lot of animals have them.

  • And mosquitoes are no different.

  • So Haley's been spending her summer bravely listening to mosquitoes,

  • and what she observed may surprise you.

  • So we want to investigate how the mosquitoes make their song.

  • So Haley, how do we record their wing beats?

  • Haley Smith: We need to tether them.

  • First, we anesthetize them in a fridge or a bed of ice.

  • And then I transfer them to this petri dish of ice,

  • just to get them even more anesthetized.

  • Next, I take an insect pin,

  • and what I do is put a tiny little dab of superglue on this pin.

  • I want to make sure that I get it on his thorax above his wings

  • so that when he is suspended, his wings are still free to move.

  • So here's one down.

  • It's really hard to catch male mosquitoes in the wild

  • because females are the only mosquitoes that are attracted to humans.

  • They feed on human blood.

  • And now, we can try to get some recordings from them.

  • So this is the stand that I use to hold them.

  • I like to place it right over the microphone

  • so that I can get a recording of the buzzing that you hear.

  • That sound is generated by how fast they're beating their wings.

  • This is a male.

  • The males have very bushy antennae, and they look kind of feathery.

  • And they are also much smaller.

  • GG: So he's flying at around 600 hertz.

  • Can we try a female mosquito?

  • HS: Sure, here we go.

  • (Mosquito buzzing, lower pitch)

  • GG: Wow.

  • HS: This is a much lower frequency than the male.

  • GG: Yeah, it sounds completely different.

  • (Mosquito buzzing)

  • (Mosquito buzzing, lower pitch)

  • So is it because they're two different mosquitoes,

  • or because they're male and female?

  • HS: It's because they're male and female.

  • GG: Alright, let's verify that.

  • Can you bring in another female and see if she sounds

  • like mosquito A or mosquito B?

  • HS: Yeah.

  • (Mosquito buzzing, lower pitch)

  • And again, she is much lower than the male.

  • GG: Yeah, she sounds different.

  • (Mosquito buzzing, lower pitch)

  • Yeah, she's spot-on 400.

  • HS: She really is. GG: That's really bizarre.

  • HS: The females are at a much lower pitch. They were around 400 hertz.

  • HS: And all of the females were around that, too.

  • They were much larger than the males,

  • so they didn't have to flap their wings as fast to stay in free flight.

  • GG: So they have larger wings, so they're flapping slower.

  • And you noticed that all the females have the same frequency, roughly?

  • And the males do, too. That's kind of interesting.

  • So that must mean something.

  • Well, let's see what happens when we put the male and the female together.

  • (Mosquitoes buzzing; pitch varies)

  • HS: When I put them into the same hearing range,

  • I noticed that they were kind of changing their tones.

  • It was kind of more dull, almost.

  • (Mosquitoes buzzing)

  • And when I put it back in my spectrogram to see their interaction,

  • they were meeting at the same tone.

  • GG: OK, pause.

  • The males and females are singing a duet,

  • meaning that they adjust their wings to be able to produce a common tone.

  • You have the male singing up here at G,

  • and you have the female singing down here at D,

  • and when they get together,

  • you're saying that they change the frequency of their wings

  • such that they come together?

  • HS: Yeah, exactly. GG: And they sort of sing a duet.

  • (Mosquitoes gradually adjusting to identical pitch)

  • HS: They're communicating to let each other know

  • that they've basically found a potential mate.

  • GG: So in other words,

  • the female tends to choose a male that best sings her duet.

  • And studies have found that if she's pregnant,

  • she doesn't even bother.

  • So if we can understand the mosquito mating behavior,

  • we may be able to disrupt it in the wild and prevent diseases like malaria.

  • But for now, the next time you hear a mosquito buzzing,

  • just pause and remember she may be in love

  • and she may be singing her song,

  • looking for her perfect match.

  • (Mosquito buzzing)

  • (Smack)

Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Krystian Aparta

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B1 US TED mosquito buzzing male pitch female

【TED】Greg Gage: The real reason why mosquitoes buzz (The real reason why mosquitoes buzz | DIY Neuroscience, a TED series)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/09/15
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