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Mosquitoes use specialized wing tones to buzz potential mates

November 7, 2019

Complex flow streamlines generated by the flapping wing of a mosquito in flight.

Mosquitoes flap their wings not just to stay aloft but for two other critical purposes: to generate sound and to point that buzz in the direction of a potential mate, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered.

Their findings about the aerodynamics of mosquito wings could have implications for building quieter drones and for devising nontoxic methods to trap and exterminate the pests.

In a research paper published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, a team from the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the university’s Whiting School of Engineering—Professor Rajat Mittal and Associate Research Professor Jung-Hee Seo—explain the aerodynamics and acoustics of the mosquito mating ritual through computer modeling.

“The same wings that are producing sound are also essential for them to fly,” said Mittal, an expert in computational fluid dynamics. “They somehow have to do both at the same time. And they’re effective at it. That’s why we have so much malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

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