The Serenade of the Sterile Mosquito

  by  |  January 12th, 2009  |  Published in All, Animals & Life Science, Blog


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A new study from Cornell University has introduced new information about the mating “song” of mosquitoes that could help scientists engineer—you guessed it—sexier mosquitoes! (Yes, seriously.)

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This is not just a biological parlor trick: Once they know what frequencies and harmonies female mosquitoes are attracted to, scientists can then release extremely hunky yet sterile male mosquitoes into the wild to compete with the natural insects. The sterile Don Juans can then out-buzz the regular suckers and voila! Happy females, zero offspring.

For places that are affected by dengue fever—most commonly tropical locations, even in the urban areas—this could be a valuable way to control mosquito populations, and a primary method of prevention for this deadly disease.

To analyze the mosquitoes’ love duets, Cornell experts Ron Hoy and Laura Harrington, along with their colleagues, tethered the insects and used a special microphone to record the sounds of their flirting (or, whatever mosquitoes’ version of "come here often?" is).

As they wrote in the journal Science, the resulting song between the male and female produces a sound roughly an octave and a half above a concert A. Listen to it here. Not what we’d call perfect pitch, but music to mosquitoes’ ears, at least.

According to the World Health Organization, about two-fifths of the world’s population is at risk from dengue. The Cornell study was funded by a grant from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to support research for a cure and methods of mosquito control. As of right now, the disease has no specific treatment, no vaccine, and no cure. Our best bet for fighting dengue might just lie in the sweet song of a sexy, sterile mosquito.

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    August 4th, 2010 at 12:33 am (#)

    [...] with in preference to ordinary, viable mosquitos. (see “Serenade of the Sterile Mosquite at: http://www.sciencentral.com/video/20…rile-mosquito/). If they are successful in this endeavor scientists will have a chance of seriously cutting down [...]

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