Outdoors: Whining mosquitoes

Jul 15, 2020

Will there still be mosquitoes at Interlochen this summer? Does corduroy swish?

Most folks are aware that male mosquitoes are more or less innocuous, living on nectar and plant juices.

They may even be pollinators, but they don’t bother us, aside from the fact that they mate with the females. 

Once she has mated, a female mosquito requires a blood meal - sort of a prenatal protein supplement - in order to produce healthy eggs.

The females mosquitoes are able to locate humans by detecting body heat and the carbon dioxide we exhale,  but how do the males find the females?

Attraction seems to begin with that annoying hum, which the males detect with their feathery antennae.

A female makes the whining noise, not by singing, but rather by vibrating chitinous structures  on her midsection.

It seems that when a female  is receptive to the advances of a male, her hum becomes ever so slightly out of tune, which the male finds irresistible.

So, like musicians, the two sort of tune up. If the male and female can reach a shared harmonic state (and they have to be the same species to achieve this), they are, as we say, “meant to be.”   

To reproduce successfully, the female mosquito must whine and dine,  and she must  be able to match pitches.