Picture this: You’re meeting a date at a restaurant. When you see them, you get excited and call their name. But they don’t seem to hear you … then they walk away. Rude? Sure, but it’s a social rejection Japanese researchers hope mosquitos begin to experience after their new study.
That’s right. Scientists have figured out a way to make female mosquitoes’ mating “buzz” fall on deaf males’ “ears.”
Disrupting mosquito populations is important not only because they are annoying — they also transmit dangerous diseases to humans such as malaria, dengue [ding-gay] and Zika.
Although much research has attempted to block mosquitoes from biting people in the first place, this study sought to determine whether scientists could control mosquito mating behavior by altering the frequency at which male mosquitoes hear.
Using a serotonin-inhibiting compound, researchers were able to make the mosquito ears go ‘out of tune,’ ideally to block their usual mating behavior. This could help control the growing mosquito population, against which common insecticides are faltering due to the buzzing beasties’ growing resistance.
The next steps in ruining mosquito romance include the development of a potential auditory-based “birth control” that would be able to pinpoint the exact receptors responsible for tuning mosquitoes’ ears.
With that in their pocket, researchers could administer even more targeted compounds to disrupt mating behavior, while ensuring other species’ romantic habits would remain untouched.
A future where you could meet a date outside on a warm summer evening without the disruption of several buzzing onlookers? Now that’s romance.