Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

The sound mosquitoes love to hear

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Male and female mosquitoes perform a mating duet by beating their wings together at the same frequency, scientists in the US have discovered.

They recorded a high-speed video of a male Aedes aegypti mosquito pursuing a female in mating flight.

The frequency of their "love song", 1200 hertz, is a "harmonic" or multiple of their individual frequencies, 400 Hz for the female and 600 Hz for the male.

Diseases such as yellow fever and dengue fever are spread by the insects.

Scientists hope to control their numbers by releasing sterile males which have been bred to be better "singers". These males would be highly attractive to females, but yield no viable offspring.

Video courtesy of Science/AAAS.

(NB - The audio track is from another mating sequence recorded from a tethered mosquito. For technical reasons it was not possible to record flight tones in the free flight situation depicted in the video.)

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