When most people think of Valentine’s Day, images of love, candy, and flowers pop to mind. However, this Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share two animals with you that use scales, wings, and other things to create songs that attract that special someone.
Male moths use a combination of pheromones and ultrasound—sound with frequencies above the range of human hearing—to woo females. To better understand moth sounds during courtship, researchers in this PLOS ONE study recorded and examined the ultrasounds emitted by three types of grass moths. They found that two of the three moth species had sex-specific wing and thoracic scales that played a role in ultrasound production, and that using these scales increased mating success. This audio clip is the recorded ultrasound of Ostrinia nubilalis (pictured above), aka the European corn borer, slowed down 10 times so that human ears can hear it.
Rapid wing fanning is the attraction tool of choice for male wasps when courting females. According to this PLOS ONE study, parasitic wasp wing fanning has been studied before, but the mechanism for how the sound is generated has not. The researchers characterized the wasp songs and found that they contain a two-part signal with sequences of buzzes and boing sounds. While scientists could characterize the male courtship songs, how they produce the sound remains a mystery. This audio clip starts with wing fanning, which produces a buzz sound, and is followed by a series of boing sounds.
Whether you choose to scale, buzz, or boing to impress your mate with beautiful music, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day from PLOS ONE!
Takanashi T, Nakano R, Surlykke A, Tatsuta H, Tabata J, et al. (2010) Variation in Courtship Ultrasounds of Three Ostrinia Moths with Different Sex Pheromones. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13144. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013144
Bredlau JP, Mohajer YJ, Cameron TM, Kester KM, Fine ML (2013) Characterization and Generation of Male Courtship Song in Cotesia congregata(Hymenoptera: Braconidae). PLoS ONE 8(4): e62051. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062051
Photo a Ostrinia nubilalis by dhobern. Heart added by us.
Dorsal view of one pair of wings of a male Cotesia congregata. Figure 8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062051.g008