Bug Blog

Love Songs in B-ug Minor

Love Songs in B-ug Minor

When your head lies on your downy pillow and you’re on your way to dreamland you may begin to hear the soft sounds of bugs calling out to each other. These sounds can coalesce to create a kind of symphony of insect music. Evolutionary Ecologist, Kasey Fowler-Finn, from Saint Lious University is interested in one bug’s music in particular: the sounds of the treehopper. Oddly enough, humans can’t actually hear the call of the treehopper without a little help. Treehoppers actually send their sounds through the stems of plants, making them vibrate so that other treehoppers can sense the sounds through special sensors in their legs. According to Fowler-Finn, when listened to with her special laser, they make sounds similar to whales.

Fowler-Finn thinks that the sounds are actually a mating call, and that female treehoppers seem to be attracted to males that call at a frequency of 385 hertz. She thinks that females tend to be picky, waiting for that perfect sounding mate…especially when Fowler-Finn is playing that perfect frequency right back from her laptop to them and confusing the poor insects. She says, “You don’t want to be super picky if you only have crappy males around. But then if you know that you do have choice, it might benefit you to be pickier and to wait for that male that you really like.”

Do you ever listen to insects at night? What sounds do you hear?