The study, which used individuals in free flight for the first time, revealed that the specimens exhibit particular acoustic behaviors when groups of males interact or during courtship with an individual of the opposite sex.
Have you imagined the role played by the sound produced by the fluttering of a mosquito? Going a little further ... Did you know that, for example, in the case of the Anopheles albimanus mosquito, a transmitter
of malaria, could the sound it produces with its wings be essential for its reproduction? This was discovered by researchers from the Colombian Institute of Tropical Medicine (ICMT) of the CES University, with an investigation that studied the dynamics of the tones emitted by males and females under laboratory conditions.
The study revealed the role of acoustics in the communication of Anopheles albimanus mosquitoes. For example, males detect and track possible mates through the sound they make with their flapping. A particular acoustic behavior characteristic of females during courtship was also established, resulting in rejection or successful copulation. Finally, when studying groups of males flying simultaneously, the researchers detected that there are also acoustic iterations between males.
"It is believed that convergence on a shared harmonic of the wing-flapping frequency during courtship increases the chances of copulation," mentions the study Precopulatory acoustic interactions of the New World malaria vector Anopheles albimanus.
“Males use sound to locate an individual of the opposite sex. In this case, the males locate the females, attract them and also recognize them as females of the same species. Certain acoustic behaviors have been shown to be important for copulation. However, most of the studies, in other species of vector mosquitoes, have been done with immobilized males and females, that is, they have taken a mosquito, they stick a little hair on it that restricts spatial movement and they put a microphone on it to record the sound they produce. But our study was with Anopheles albimanus mosquitoes that had never been done and in free flight. One of the things that we saw is that obviously the acoustic behavior of immobilized mosquitoes is different from the acoustic one when they can fly freely ” , explained Dr. Catalina Alfonso-Parra, entomology researcher at ICMT.
Among the other conclusions found by Colombian scientists from the CES University in Medellín, it is found that due to certain acoustic characteristics there is a behavior of the female to reject the couple despite the male's attempts to mate.
“When we did the study in free flight, what we detected is that when the male approaches, the female modulates his sound, begins to fly faster, which can result in the female rejecting him or accepting him and copulating. But what we discovered is that the acoustics of the female is different if it ends in rejection or if it ends in copulation. This was something that had not been described before and that we reported ”, added researcher Alfonso-Parra.
The researchers also analyzed the acoustic signals produced by male mosquitoes when they interact with each other. For the first time, two different types of acoustic behavior are described, associated with two different types of flights, one in swarm and the other random or flight without patterns. When males fly in swarms, or in patterns, their flight tones become similar.
Studies related to the behavior and reproductive biology of vector mosquitoes are important for the development and / or improvement of control tools, especially with the new techniques for releasing laboratory mosquitoes that have to behave like field mosquitoes in order to find, attract and compete for a mate.
The research has been carried out in the last three years with the application of laboratory tests and semi-field works are currently being carried out, in more open spaces, at the ICMT headquarters in the municipality of Apartadó in the Urabá subregion.
Download the statements of Dr. Catalina Alfonso-Parra, ICMT researcher at CES University.
Download the sound of the malaria-transmitting mosquito in which it would seek copulation with the same species of the opposite sex.