The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "Mosquito sound communication: are male swarms loud enough to attract females?"

Posted on 2021-04-01 - 11:17
Given the unsurpassed sound sensitivity of mosquitoes among arthropods and the sound source power required for long-range hearing, we investigated the distance over which female mosquitoes detect species-specific cues in the sound of station-keeping mating swarms. A common misunderstanding, that mosquitoes cannot hear at long range because their hearing organs are ‘particle-velocity’ receptors, has clouded the fact that particle velocity is an intrinsic component of sound whatever the distance to the sound source. We exposed free-flying Anopheles coluzzii females to pre-recorded sounds of male An. coluzzii and An. gambiae s.s. swarms over a range of natural sound levels. Sound levels tested were related to equivalent distances between the female and the swarm for a given number of males, enabling us to infer distances over which females might hear large male swarms. We show that females do not respond to swarm sound up to 48 dB sound pressure level (SPL) and that louder SPLs are not ecologically relevant for a swarm. Considering that swarms are the only mosquito sound source that would be loud enough to be heard at long range, we conclude that inter-mosquito acoustic communication is restricted to close-range pair interactions. We also showed that the sensitivity to sound in free-flying males is much enhanced compared to that of tethered ones.


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