Mosquito hum - Sounds emitted by the mosquito

Mosquito hum - Sounds emitted by the mosquito


The hum of the mosquito

The mosquito (family Culicidae), is an insect that emits a characteristic buzz produced by the flapping of its wings in flight (from 300 to 600 times per second). According to several scholars, the hum of the male would attract the females who would try to reach the same tonality to get in tune with the tonality of the male which should represent courtship.


The mosquitoes [1] (Culicidae Meigen, 1818) are a family of insects of the order Diptera (Nematocera: Culicomorpha). This family, which counts about 3540 species, constitutes the most numerous group of the superfamily of the Culicoidea, which in turn includes insects morphologically similar to the Culicidae but, with the exception of the Corethrellidae, unable to sting.

A general characteristic of Culicidae is the capacity of the particular mouth apparatus, present exclusively in females, which allows them to sting other animals and take their vital fluids, rich in proteins necessary for the completion of the maturation of the eggs. The presence of different hematophagous species, associated with humans and domestic animals and capable of transmitting pathogenic microorganisms to the victim, gives Culicides a position of primary importance from the medical-health point of view.

The history of this family is poorly documented. Most of the fossil remains found belong to similar species, similar to the current ones, lived in the Oligocene and Eocene, while other finds date back to the Miocene. The origin of the family, however, can be dated, as for most of the Nematocera, to the Mesozoic, although there are few fossil finds: the oldest culicides found date back to the Lower Jurassic or, more recently, between the Upper Jurassic and the Cretaceous [ 2] .

Mosquito hum - Sounds emitted by the mosquito

It is well known that mosquitoes can be carriers of diseases, sometimes even serious ones, and that today entire regions of the world are fighting in the most diverse ways against the proliferation of this insect, a real propagator of infections.

In severe cases, the mosquito can transmit malaria (carried by the mosquito anopheles) or encephalitis (from mosquito culex), not to mention the Zika virus, which since 2013 has officially been an emergency in various areas of the world. All of these conditions, if left untreated, can also lead to extreme consequences.

On the European and Italian territory, serious cases of infections due to mosquito bites are very rare (see the cases of Chikungunya and tiger mosquitoes of recent years in Italy), but this does not mean that we must let our guard down.

Bloodsucking mosquitoes (Culicidae)


In a ranking of the factors that most attract mosquitoes to our body:

  1. lactic acid produced by sweat
  2. heavy breathing and loaded with carbon dioxide typical of obesity or pregnancy
  3. blood group 0
  4. increased use of alcohol
  5. may surprise, but even cleaner skin attracts them: in fact, a greater presence of bacteria on the epidermis wards off mosquitoes.


Mosquitoes can be repelled mainly in three ways:

LIGHT: a particular yellow LED light has been found to inhibit and ward off mosquitoes. A light of this type is distributed by COLPHARMA® and has proved to be immediately effective: studied and tested in the laboratories of the School of Biosciences and Veterinary Medicine of the University of Camerino, the tests have shown that, after about an hour of presence of such light, the mosquito is paralyzed and inappetent.

SOUND: ULTRASONIC and SONIC emissions at variable frequency, with a correct waveform and an adequate intensity, are able to offer real protection against mosquitoes, parasites, insects and rodents. ULTRASOUNDS are high frequency sounds (above 20 Khz), usually inaudible to the human ear but perceived in an annoying way by these animals, which thus move away from the sound source. Similarly, SONIC emissions, which are more audible to humans, can be highly repellent. If ultrasonic and sonic are emitted at a constant frequency, they cause addiction in the long run, thus causing insects and parasites, now accustomed to the disorder, to return. An intermittent and varied wave, on the other hand, makes it possible to greatly improve any repellent effect, avoiding addiction.

THE TOPICAL REPELLENTS, or those that are applied to the skin, are among the most used precautions to limit or avoid contact with mosquitoes, ticks or other animals. These are sprays, lotions and gels formulated with active ingredients that have insect repellent properties, that is, capable of annoying and warding off insects or parasites that cause stings. For an effective and safe repellent action, the products must have certified formulations with the correct mix of active ingredients and be well tolerated by the skin.

THE AFTER PUNCTURE: let's not forget that many insects release toxic agents into the epidermal tissue, anesthetizing or irritating the skin. For this reason, the post-puncture treatment is as important as the moment of protection, choosing soothing preparations that contain nutrients such as Calendula, Aloe Vera and Mallow, which have an emollient and soothing action, in association with ammonia, with an anti-inflammatory effect. .

Why use mosquito deterrents

If you think about the mosquitoes, usually they are not considered annoying or annoying animals. But actually there are species, like the Tiger mosquito, which in addition to causing damage to crops is potentially very dangerous for humans, due to the bites that can lead to high fever and epidemics. That is why the simple presence of mosquito deterrents it is able to prove to be an effective tool both in smaller environments and in large spaces, both in the city and in the countryside. The alternative to bollards remain i bats, but the electrical equipment however, it is always more effective and even cheaper (in the photo an electric device that attracts mosquitoes which, once in contact with the metal wires, are roasted).

I was sitting on the unmade bed, with the dry pages of a '72 edition of Joyce's "The Dubliners" in one hand, while with the other I was persistently scratching a mosquito bite just below the navel.

I was chewing on a peppermint gum that was melting and mixing with saliva.

"What losers." I thought, of the protagonists of Joyce's stories.

A girl, an inch from grabbing her lover's hand and salvation with it, retreated unable to abandon her misfortunes, choosing to return to the mainland, preferring to drown in the tired Dublin crowd rather than in the waves of the sea, alive and full of strength.

I closed the book a little nauseated and got out of bed, placed it on top of a couple of volumes of Kafka.

The mosquito bite kept bothering me, by now it had become a huge and red bubo.

With the little nail that remained on my right index finger, one of the few not yet tormented by my teeth to the flesh, I imprinted a firm X on my martyrdom and it gave me a momentary relief from the itch.

The feeling of desolation that reading had left in my veins was comparable to what one feels getting lost in the middle of a plain crossed by several rivers, while we, aimless travelers, are aware that when you leave there is no river, no road, to take you home.

No deep water to lull you, if not a few centimeters broken through by gravel and stones, which could make you float like a not very graceful Ophelia, in the midst of some reeds inhabited by ducks.

The dark room made little sense for my return to the real world, so I decided to get rid of that book by throwing open the blinds and letting the light flood the room.

Everything went white for a moment, my body was hit by a sun not yet hot but full of promise.

I made my bones creak with a few stretches and went to make coffee.

It was a Saturday morning in spring.

It occurred to me that my neighbor would be knocking shortly, bringing me a slice of apple pie prepared the previous evening.

I looked at the clock, it was 20 minutes to 9, so I lowered the heat under the coffee pot to better coordinate with the arrival of the cake.

I was still sleeping lazy from sleep, curled up in the chair when I felt a presence behind me.

I jumped to my feet in fright and turning around saw a short blonde girl smiling at me.

"Hello Maria." I greeted relieved.

My roommate had returned from Spain for two days and I still hadn't gotten used to having her back home.

“I'm waiting for old Amelia. Bring the cake. "

"Ah, that's right." he said sitting in front of me with his legs curled up.

We spent the next 5 minutes in silence, the coffee had finished rising so we turned it off and waited again.

Maria began to look at me, alternating me with the entrance door.

"I do not know. He is usually on time. "

It didn't bother me to wait, when time didn't pass, I occupied it with a kind of "waiting jingle".

It wasn't that I was in control, simply, in the absence of thoughts, my brain was making sounds. For example, that morning I started a hypnotic drum beat, accompanied by a howl that should have resembled a chant of some African tribal people.

Maria began tapping on the table.

"Well. Let's start drinking coffee. If it arrives, we'll prepare another one. " she decided, taking two cups.

He could only agree, so I grabbed the yellow ceramic one.

Half an hour later I was starving, the sting had started to itch again and I decided to go out and get some air.

Closing the door of the house behind me, I glanced at the entrance of the old neighbor. I leaned my ear to the wood, looking for sounds, signs of life, from the inside, but I heard nothing. I shrugged and went in search of a bar.

The sounds of the city lulled me like the currents of rivers that do not bring me home. To stay on topic.

A little dog defecated on the curb while the easygoing owner turned his back on him while chatting with the baker.

The pedestrian lights were all red. So every hundred meters I found myself waiting.

Traffic lights are a way of life.

There are those who kick around waiting for the green all in tension, those who throw themselves on the strips hoping to run faster than the cars, those who are afraid of being mowed and stop a meter before the step, and those who, like me, take that moment to observe people's reaction to traffic lights.

Not that it was particularly interesting as an occupation, but I knew how to be satisfied.

Old Amelia came to mind. Maybe he had begun to forget things. It was possible, 82 years old, two heart attacks, he must have had some damage due to the lack of oxygen to the brain.

The sting felt like a flea nest to me. I scratched it to the point of blood.

The previous day, however, I had seen the lady hanging out the clothes in the sun at 2pm, so everything had to be okay. As far as possible.

How good is the life of an old woman with one foot in the grave.

I walked into a cafe with the door rattling and ordered coffee and compensatory apple brioches.

I let the icing sugar smear my black shirt, then quickly wiped my mouth and went out lighting up a Lucky Strike.

"There's Stefano toilet paper to take."

"Can't you clean yourself with fig leaves?"

"Yes, maybe we'll recycle them as well." he said in a bitchy tone.

"You could wash them in the washing machine."

"Already. When you go to the supermarket, take the cat treats too. "

That evening I got a fever. 39.4 but to me it was like I was naked in an oven and sprinkled with ice cubes.

The mosquito bite had begun to throb and in my half-sleep, between rolls of toilet paper smeared with nasal fluids and crumpled next to the mattress, I dreamed of being in a JUTE sack, among the potatoes.

I had an annoying tickle on my belly and looking closer I saw my skin moving raised by some parasite that ran through my flesh. Taken by a fit of panic I began to scratch, and the more I scratched, the more I hysterically sank my nails into the flesh until I made a real hole. A cockroach emerged and tripped innocently away.

The potatoes had rolled out of a hole in the sack, I snuggled in and went to sleep.

I woke up with my belly wet with sweat.

I ran my hand over it and found it full of scratches. Having printed the image of the dream on my head, I threw the blankets aside and turned on the light, hoping not to find myself with a hole in the place of my intestine.

The belly was still there, but it was devastated by furious scratching, red, irritated and full of crusts of dried blood.

I lay down and took a breath. I remembered the apple pie again, the girl who didn't leave, and all that mass of losers on their boats battered by the current and embraced by the mud of the surface of some dull lake.

I heard a meow approaching with soft footsteps. My Siamese jumped on the blankets making my pimp eyes and throwing me an unconvinced meow. He knew that it was not necessary to buy me with excessive fuss. He crouched on my side, his fur tickling my already sensitive skin.

The sweat was gone. I don't know if it was the drop in fever or the nightmare, but in any case I felt better, I was just very thirsty.

I got up, adjusting my underwear and walked sticking my feet on the floor tiles to the kitchen.

The fridge lit up the austere darkness. The smells of a fridge have always been unbearable to me. A mixture of broccoli, cheese and wet, like when you go to the mountains and the ski suit starts to smell after a full day.

I continued to have the old woman in my head and I couldn't rest. As if to answer for my irritation, the mosquito bite began to haunt me again.

I scratched listlessly before flinching in pain at having peeled off a scab and bleeding again.

Polpetta, my cat, was sleeping in his hole made from the sheets and now covered with fur.

I was thinking of the old woman. It was three in the morning. I decided that I would go to the intercom. Maria still hadn't returned, it was evening.

I put on my robe and left the house barefoot armed only with good intentions.

I intercomed the old woman and the cat's meow answered. Meatball hated that cat. They blew each other off the balconies, stretching out their paws threateningly, and stared at each other for hours with their ears slightly pulled back.

I buzzed again. When I put my ear to the entrance door it opened slightly with a creak. It was dark inside.

Grandma's cat rocketed out the door blowing and rattling, stopping to stare at me at the end of the hall.

I shrugged and went inside.

I didn't turn on the light, thinking I had to be as unobtrusive as possible.

When I entered the living room I smelled a distinct smell of apple pie. The shutters were open and the light from the street lamps came in through the window that overlooked the balcony.

There was still no trace of the old woman.

I opened the door to her room but the bed was empty and made.

The sting pinched me a little. I was running out of pee, so I went to the bathroom without too many compliments.

As I dripped my faucet into the noisy bottom water of the toilet, I noticed a speck of blood on the wall with something black in it. I slowly approached and focused. It was a squashed mosquito. I shrugged with an incredulous grimace, the old woman had managed to be fast enough to kill her. But too late not to be stung.

Or maybe it was my blood. Maybe it was my mosquito, the one that had bitten me.

In all of this I kept emptying my bladder.

Perhaps my mosquito had bitten me, had passed through the window, entered here, arrived in the bathroom, had tried to bite the old woman who had prevailed. I imagined it a bit like high noon. So that could have been my blood.

I put my nose close to it, as if to feel if it smelled like me, I was hoping to see a tag sticking out of the wall "STEFANO'S BLOOD."

I shook my tap and pulled the water scratching my belly.

The mosquito had a tattered black spot instead of the body. A wing, still whole, protruded perpendicular to the wall as if attached by a precise model maker with glue.

The other was broken in half and battered. Two or three crooked legs stuck out of the bloodstain.

I imagined a giant finger coming down from the sky and squashing me in the same way. What a horrible ending.

I went back to the living room and turned on the light. On the wooden table there were three apple pies and a note that read "For Stefano."

Opening it, I saw it filled with a beautiful neat and feminine handwriting, "Dear Stefano, I remembered that I have a very important thing to do, for which I have prepared three cakes, for the next three weeks because I do not know the date of my return yet. . Don't worry about me, I can get by, but I have to find the mosquitoes. Greetings, darling, to you and to Mary. "

I was stunned. I mean, had the old woman gone in search of mosquitoes? What did that mean? I scratched my belly. Then I shrugged. I would have waited three weeks. I took a knife and bit into a piece of cake.

The next morning I was awakened by the sound of the ambulance. I was on it. Or rather, I was lying down, with a crushed belly and a broken arm around a circle of blood. Like that mosquito on the bathroom tiles.

I saw myself there, all squashed and it seemed impossible.

I followed me to the hospital bed and I was asked for apple pie, but no one took me seriously, everyone thought I was delirious.

I screamed from above into the doctors' ears, forced to hang from the ceiling, but no one heard, or rather, they chased my face from their ears with an annoyed air like someone tormented by an insistent buzz of some insect.

I sat on the ceiling and watched myself die, upside down. My body under there went out as if it were a balloon that was finishing deflating.

Stop. The clock had simply stopped.

What a sad death, I thought, without even a little tragedy.

I started walking through the corridors of the hospital. The doctors had said that it looked like I had been hit by a car, but they had found me at home, so someone must have transported me, impossible that it was the old lady, they would not even have had the strength, they said.

They said I had a bad mosquito bite on my stomach, maybe I was delirious from malaria.

I remembered it from the previous night. I just didn't remember what happened after the apple pie. I had to go back to the old woman.

Back in the apartment, still walking on the ceiling, I entered the old woman's living room.

"I don't know how it happened, mister policeman, I was preparing the cakes and you know how it is, mosquitoes always come in the spring, I went to get a newspaper to kill a very insistent one and immediately after I found it on the ground, behind me, all like this, in the midst of blood. "

The carabinieri ran their hand through their desperate hair. They saw no way out.

I walked all over the house and went to the bathroom to check the mosquito I had seen. It was gone. He must have cleaned it.

I passed in front of the mirror to go out and I glaciers.

What I saw was a mosquito. I was not there. But that buzzing thing does.

I touched my face. The mosquito did too, if you can talk about faces.

I hummed loudly and ended up bumping into the mirror. I was groggy, with crumpled paws, for a few seconds.

The carabinieri were leaving and the lady was closing the door when she painted an evil grin on her face.

I noticed only now the care with which the mosquito nets were fixed in his house, the quantity of mosquito spray cans, citronella candles, that place was a nightmare!

The old woman took a plastic brush to fluff the flies. He smiled in the air and without reference points shouted "Heard you know? Don't prick me! Get in on it! "

"WITCH!" I screamed at her. "What have you done to me!"

"I hear you buzzing!" she said. " I kept an eye on you, you know? "

There was no way to communicate. The old woman sliced ​​through the air with the newspaper in hysteria, she forgot to swallow and the saliva made her dentures slip out.

He hit me with the paddle, but it went right through me.

I was a ghost. A mosquito ghost.

The old woman calmed down. Because I had settled on a piece of furniture.

I was desperate. What could I do.

I imagined that tears were coming to my eyes that no longer allowed me to cry. I was alone. And I was a mosquito.

I glanced one last time at the apple pie on the table that was missing a slice. I thought I could taste it.

I hummed away, passing under the front door.

The city was dark and still.

I moved randomly across the sky accompanied by my new annoying sound, a perennial humming moan.

Now no road would take me home anymore, I was stranded in my reed bed by the still water and I no longer even had suicide to save myself.

What happened? I never understood it, as happens on the other hand for many things in life, but if a mosquito bite itches too much, stay away from neighbors and apple pies.

Deterrents for mosquitoes and flying insects, here are the most effective models

THE ultrasonic bollards with very high frequencies, ie between 60 and 100 KHz they turned out effective to fight all flying insects, starting with mosquitoes. Many wonder if in reality this kind of device really works, since the sounds emitted are not picked up by the human ear and therefore no one is able to really understand if the device is working or not. In fact there are three more bollards effective in fighting mosquitoes and more generally insects.

The first is the radio frequency devices that have been tested extensively in the United States on large cultivated fields. These are devices that work with waves that move water molecules and generate heat, thus creating a nuisance in insects that leads to their removal.

And again, the true ultrasound and own they emit sound waves used effectively since the 1970s in crops and countryside in many countries around the world and reproducing the sound emitted by males. This is why especially the female mosquitoes that can give birth are prone to run away.

Finally i electromagnetic bollards that create vibrations on a frequency capable of frightening and confusing insects so that they feel disoriented and seek refuge elsewhere without returning to where they encountered this problem.

The sounds of insects

You may not have heard of it, but in the spring of 2000, the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, WFAE for those of us who use acronyms - unveiled a new scientific journal. It has been called 'Soundscape (literal Landscape of Sounds) - The Journal of Acoustic Ecology.' This Australian-based organization and journal, as you may believe, is dedicated to sounds in nature.

Canadian R. Murray Schafer coined the term soundscape. According to Schafer, composer and environmentalist, the soundscape consists of three components.

First there are the dominant note sounds (or tonic, that is the note that gives the key to a piece, the name of the scale to which it belongs and the resulting chord). These are sounds present on a regular basis, background sounds. Depending on the location, background sounds can be: the stirring of the sea waves, wind in pine or willow trees, vehicle traffic on city streets, cattle grazing in a meadow, or the hum of a domestic air conditioning system. .

The second type of sounds are called signals. Things like bells, whistles, horns, a barking dog, a cock crow. The signals stand out in the background of sounds.

The third type of sound is defined as sound-sign. Sign sounds are like reference points considering that they can be used to define an area. I suppose the sound of Big Ben, the bell of the Palace of Westminster in London, could represent such a sound.

Some insects make sounds and, as a result, can contribute to the landscape of sounds. Insects create sounds by rubbing one part of the body against another, by vibrating their wings, or by forcefully pushing air out of spiracles (= slits connected to the respiratory system of insects).

Sometimes insect sounds are accidental, produced by activities such as flying, or chewing. Many times an insect deliberately makes sounds to attract a partner, define territory, or scare off a predator. Regardless of the reasons for which sounds are produced, they are part of a landscape of sounds.

Many insect sounds are included in the soundscape. The dominant note makers among insects would be crickets, locusts and grasshoppers. These are screechers - insects that rub one part of the body against another, such as a wing on a leg, to produce sound. Insect screechers generate the popping, scraping noises and trills that are the insects' contribution to the landscape of summer and fall sounds. In general, the human population ignores the sounds of these animals.

However, there are sounds of some insects that manage to get our attention. These are sounds associated with stinging, or biting, insects. In this case the sound is produced by the vibration of the wings. Insect sounds like these would be called cues based on 'soundscape' terminology. Watch out for the signs! This is exactly how the biting insects want the system to work. Their sounds warn people that insects are harmful and can be avoided. Animals other than humans learn to associate wing flapping frequency with the possibility of an unpleasant encounter with a stinging insect.

The sound signaling system for insects is so effective that even an insect that does not endanger humans benefits from it. For example, green cetonias (= scarab beetles found on flower petals like beetles) have a wing beat frequency similar to that of bumblebees, and the sound they make makes people nervous, even if the insect with the hard green thorax (= pronotum) it does not seem at all similar to a bumblebee.

The frequency of wing flapping in mosquitoes produces a high-pitched moan that most of us recognize as a threatening sign that a female mosquito is looking for a blood meal. Whereas most of us don't give much thought to the possibility of donating blood to a pregnant mosquito, sound is a signal. A sign that it is time to enter, or to throw out the insect repellent.

Similar to a landmark, a sound-sign would be unique in a given area. To me, the only type of insect sound that could come close to qualifying as a sound-sign would be the sound of periodic cicadas. Cicadas are the drummers of the insect world and produce an incessant vibrating sound that in terms of decibel levels is unrivaled in the insect world. Considering that periodic cicadas are found only in parts of North America, their emergence every 17 years and the consequent sound could be considered a sound-sign.

The sounds of insects, like creatures themselves, can induce positive or negative responses in people. Some people like the buzzing of bees around flowers. For other people the sound of a bee means that a problem is brewing. As they occur, insect sounds are not very different from other sounds in the soundscape. Some people like them, others don't.

Article author: Prof. Tom Turpin, 26 May 2011 - Editor: Olivia Maddox

Published by Agrolinker, dated 1 August 2011 translation of Luca Federico Fianchini.

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