Imagine your favorite make out song is playing. How is your body responding? Is your heartbeat speeding up? Is your stomach tightening when you anticipate your next date with your sweetheart? Is blood rushing to your cheeks and your lips, giving your secret away to your crush? Scientific data confirms that responding to music is a natural part of human development. Elena Mannes, author of the 2011 book, The Power of Music, told National Public Radio that the ability to physically and emotionally respond to music is present in human infants. Mannes said studies show that an infant’s crying contains some of the basic intervals found in Western music. Humans’ responses to music are especially nuanced, but such responses aren’t singular to the human species.
To return to our scenario where your favorite make out song is playing, humans aren’t the only creatures who need to be in the mood to have sex. Humans are unique among sexually reproducing creatures because of their methods and motivations for having sex, namely, for pleasure and not always from behind. However, they’re not unique in needing optimum conditions for having sex. An international team of researchers studying the effects of ambient noise on the mating habits of mosquitoes released its findings in 2019. The researchers told Live Science reporter, Brandon Specktor female Aedes agypti mosquitoes, often called yellow fever mosquitoes, were less likely to mate or feed while electronic dance music (EDM), also called dubstep, was playing for ten minutes than female yellow fever mosquitoes who were kept in a silent environment for the same length of time. Specifically, the scientists observed the mosquitoes’ behavior while “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” a 2010 song by dubstep record producer and DJ, Sonny John Moore, professionally known as Skrillex.
Mosquitoes may not be particularly seductive members of the Arthropoda phylum or even the smaller Insecta class, but their mating and reproductive habits are of special interest to scientists. Mosquitoes are called disease vectors, because of how effectively they transmit diseases. When a mosquito bites an infected animal or an infected human, the mosquito also becomes infected. It transmits its infection to the next creature it bites, injecting the virus directly into the creature’s bloodstream. Mosquitoes can carry many diseases, including malaria, chikungunya, dog heartworm, dengue, yellow fever, eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, lacrosse encephalitis, western equine encephalitis, West Nile virus, and zika virus. The mosquitoes in the study described above are colloquially called yellow fever mosquitoes, because they are likely to carry that particular disease, as well as dengue.
Discovering methods for decreasing the feeding and reproductive habits of mosquitoes may help limit the spreading of the many infectious diseases mosquitoes carry. Though this study of the mating habits of mosquitoes has attracted significant media attention, experts warn that listening to a specific musical genre still isn’t the most effective way to avoid being bitten by a mosquito. Sound can be used to manipulate a mosquito’s behavior, because mosquitoes can detect frequencies and vibrations in the air. However, Professor James Logan, head of the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warns that using music as a mosquito repellent will not be consistently effective, as there is no guarantee that the right song will be playing in the right public place and at the right volume.